Class-Action Lawsuits Could Cost Toyota Billions

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Mar 10, 2010 in Car Accidents

Toyota owners are claiming that the massive recalls are causing the value of their vehicle to drop, resulting in 89 class-action lawsuits that could cost Toyota approximately $3 billion.

Toyota owners are contending their vehicles have dropped in value because of the recalls and that Toyota knew all along about the safety problems but concealed them from buyers. Earlier this month Kelley Blue Book decided to lower the resale value of recalled Toyotas an average of 3.5%.

This estimate does not include payouts from wrongful death and injury lawsuits. Even though wrongful death and injury lawsuits can result in multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements, the sheer volume of cases claiming lost value (approximately 6 million) could prove far more costly.

A panel of federal judges will consider soon whether to consolidate the claims into a single jurisdiction.

Under federal law, a class-action must have over 100 plaintiffs, damages must exceed $5 million and the judge must be persuaded the claims are identical or very similar. If a class is not certified, each lawsuit would have to be pursued on its own.

Another hearing will be conducted before a seven-member Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litgation, which decides whether similar lawsuits filed in multiple federal districts should be centralized in one location for pretrial motions, hearings and the like.

So far, 5.6 million vehicles have been recalled in the U.S. because of unintended acceleration issues. An additional 437,000 Prius models have been recalled worldwide for anti-lock braking issues. The National Highway Transportation Administration reports that 52 people have died in accelerator-related crashes.

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