Besides the unintended acceleration case, Toyota still has to deal with other product-liability lawsuits that could lead to big verdicts.
Although Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle claims related to the unintended acceleration issue, the company still has ahead another category of lawsuits according to which the vehicles’ defects caused injuries and even deaths. Starting 2013, Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, will be hearing two federal cases related to more than 100 individual and class-action lawsuits on personal injuries and economic loss.
“The product liability cases will be defended on an individual basis,” Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said Thursday.
In 2009 and 2010 the automaker recalled more than 14 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for sticking pedal or loose floor mats which were trapping the pedals. The NHTSA applied record fines on Toyota for failing to react promptly. According to Nicholas Wittner, a professor at Michigan State University’s School of Law, the Ford-Firestone rollover cases 10 years ago could have been avoided if the company responded quickly enough to these complaints.
Still, the Transportation Department decided that there is no evidence to support this claim and that the problems were caused by driver error or mechanical issues.