[UPDATED with Toyota Response:] Automaker Settles Sudden Acceleration Lawsuit Brought by Orange County DA for $16 Million
See the update at the end of this post with Toyota's statement on the settlement.
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 5, 4:19 P.M.: Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas today announced Toyota Motor Corp. has settled a $16 million lawsuit with his office over sudden acceleration claims. The case, based on alleged violations of California consumer protection laws, is separate from the federal action in Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan courthouse that Toyota settled with plaintiffs earlier this year for $1.1 billion.
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In 2009 and 2010, Toyota issued recalls of nearly 6 million vehicles due to the risk of unintended acceleration caused by floor mats and "sticky" gas pedals. Rackauckas sued on grounds the world's largest automaker concealed safety issues during the recalls in violation of state law.
"The possibility of experiencing an unintended acceleration event during Toyota's recall crisis clearly scared many consumers," Rackauckas says in a statement from his office announcing the accord. "This settlement is an important step in holding Toyota accountable for the safety and security of their customers."
The deal calls for $8 million to go to the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, which aims to keep fourth and fifth graders out of gangs. Partners include the DA's office, the sheriff's department, Orange County police departments, the Department of Education and several private companies and churches, including the Los Angeles Angels, Chivas USA, Saddleback Church, Ralph's grocery stores and--Toyota's gotta love this--Ford Motor Co.
The DA will use half of the remaining $8 million to fight economic crime, and the other half will offset costs and fees--including the hiring of outside counsel--to bring the action against Toyota.
UPDATE, APRIL 5, 5:07 P.M.: The following statement was released today from Christopher P. Reynolds, group vice president and general counsel of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A, Inc., and chief legal officer of Toyota Motor North America , said:
As we continue to turn the page on legacy legal issues related to our past recalls, we are pleased to have resolved these allegations in a way that supports the communities where our customers live and work. Having addressed floor mat and "sticky pedal" issues with effective and durable solutions, we are gratified that Toyota vehicles are once again widely recognized as among the safest and most reliable on the road. We remain focused on continuously enhancing our quality assurance operations and strengthening our ability to meet customer expectations, and we are grateful for their continued support.
Also note the original post has been corrected to indicate Toyota was alleged to violate California consumer protection laws by the DA, and the settlement in federal court was with plaintiffs, not the U.S. government.
The Weekly regrets the errors and yours truly REALLY regrets the errors because, no shit, I need to take my Highlander in to Toyota for new brakes.
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