The National Law Journal recently reported that plaintiffs' class action attorneys could seek more than $7 Billion in damages from Toyota Motor Company for the decreased value to Toyota consumers' vehicles as a result of the problems associated with sudden unintended acceleration.
Plaintiffs attorneys believe that the members of the Toyota class action will enjoy some distinct advantages over members of other class actions, in that numerous consumer rating agencies have indicated that the value of Toyota vehicles have dramatically declined from 2.6% to 3.77%. Those figures may not sound like much, but, when you consider that Toyota sold almost 9 million vehicles in 2008 and is the world's largest automaker, it quickly adds up.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) also fined Toyota the maximum amount ($16.4 Million) for its failure to timely disclose its knowledge of the sticky pedal problem. The basis for the fine was that manufacturers are required to notify the government whenever they have reason to believe that a product they manufacture may not be safe. Toyota did nothing until the issue was picked up by the national media. NHTSA has confirmed that Toyota knew that there were safety issues with its gas pedals for several months before they publicly disclosed the problems.
Toyota could have easily taken issue with the amount of the fine and demanded explanations about the method NHTSA used to arrive at the record penalty. $16.4 million is a mere drop in the large bucket of cash Toyota has amassed in recent years. Toyota paid the full fine last month without so much as a whimper. The auto manufacturer was careful not to admit any legal liability with regard to the sticky pedal problem. The following statement by Toyota indicates that the plaintiffs are probably going to be in for a fight as they seek to recover for their harms and losses.
"We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company," Toyota said, "but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem".
At this point, Toyota would probably just like to "move forward."
Several of my prior posts have covered the safety problems with Toyota's vehicles.
At Davis Law Group, we have represented many consumers in cases involving defective products. If you would like to speak to an experienced defective product attorney, contact defective product attorney Brian Davis. Attorney Davis has the knowledge and experience to effectively handle complex product liability claims.