Toyota Recall Ruling

The court overseeing the class actions brought against Toyota arising out of its recall of over 8 million vehicles due to unintended acceleration recently released two rulings favorable to the plaintiffs, which allow the cases to proceed.

On December 1, 2010, Judge James Selna released his final, 108 page order denying Toyota’s Motion to Dismiss the class action brought on behalf of individuals who have seen the values of their vehicles decline as a result of Toyota’s massive recall of vehicles. The court’s opinion, following its earlier, tentative ruling, rejected Toyota’s claim that individuals whose vehicles had not experienced unintended acceleration lacked standing to pursue their claim.

And on December 7, the court tentatively rejected Toyota’s motion to dismiss the class action brought on behalf of those who were injured or killed when their vehicle experienced unintended acceleration. In that case, the plaintiffs allege that Toyota failed to disclose or warn customers of a defect that would cause the vehicle to accelerate suddenly. In denying Toyota’s motion to dismiss the court said:

Toyota demands a level of specificity that is not required at the pleadings stage. The defect is identified: Plaintiffs’ cars suddenly and unexpectedly accelerate and do not stop upon proper application of the brake pedal. Causes of the defect are identified: an inadequate fault detection system and electronic failures. An alternative design (that allegedly would have prevented the defect from injuring Plaintiffs) is identified: a brake override system. These allegations do more than merely recite the elements required for design defect claims under California law, and plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

The court has scheduled a hearing on its tentative ruling for today.