| July 19
July 19 A U.S. judge on Friday gave final
approval to the settlement of a class action lawsuit against
Toyota Motor Corp by plaintiffs who claimed design
defects caused some of the company's vehicles to accelerate
U.S. District Judge James Selna in California gave final
approval during a court hearing on Friday, lawyers for the
plaintiffs said. The settlement was initially approved in
The terms include direct payments to customers as well as
free installation of brake-override systems in an estimated 3.25
million eligible vehicles, and the establishment of a customer
support program, according to court filings.
Plaintiffs' lawyers valued the deal at more than $1.6
billion, calling it "a landmark, if not a record, settlement in
automobile defect class action litigation in the United States,"
according to court filings. The lawsuit was filed in 2010.
Toyota, which has the third largest share of the U.S. auto
market, announced in December that it would take a one-time
pre-tax charge of $1.1 billion to cover the estimated settlement
costs. It has denied any wrongdoing.
"This agreement allows us to resolve a legacy legal issue in
a way that provides significant value to our customers and
demonstrates that they can depend on Toyota to stand behind our
vehicles," Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore said in a
statement following the hearing Friday.
Concerns about potential unintended acceleration issues
caused Toyota to recall more than 10 million vehicles between
2009 and 2011. Plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that media reports
and consumer complaints about the alleged defects caused the
trade-in value for their vehicles to plummet.
The settlement of the lawsuit covers economic losses
stemming from the alleged safety defects, but does not include
claims of wrongful death, personal injury or property damage.
More than 22 million potential class members have been
notified of the settlement, according to court filings. Owners
of affected Toyota, Lexus and Scion models sold in the United
States have until July 29 to decide whether to participate in
the settlement and file claims, according to court filings.
Plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking $200 million in fees and $27
million for their expenses, the filings said.