December 1, 2010 / 5:32 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toyota sues former GM over California plant closure

* Toyota seeking $73 mln in damages on factory closure

* GM pulled out of venture last year as part of restructuring

* Plant was last major auto factory on U.S. west coast (Adds detail)

TOKYO, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said it has filed a lawsuit against Motors Liquidation Co, the company responsible for the discarded assets of the former General Motors, seeking $73 million in damages related to the closure of their joint factory.

Japan's leading automaker is claiming the award to cover research and development costs that it said resulted from a breach of contract by the U.S. company when their plant in California, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc, or Nummi, was shuttered earlier this year.

"It's part of the process of winding down the Nummi venture," Toyota spokesman Keisuke Kirimoto said.

GM pulled out of the venture last year as part of its bankruptcy restructuring, from which it has emerged and followed last month with the world's largest initial public offering. [ID:nN18285952]

The plant, the last major auto factory on the U.S. west coat, was eventually closed, laying off 4,700 workers in a bid to trim costs as demand for cars slumped amid a global recession.

In May, Toyota sold the facility to electric car partner Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) for about $42 million.

The deal includes 207 acres, or about 55 percent of the land at the site, but excludes manufacturing equipment. (Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Joseph Radford)

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