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Lawsuits Against Toyota Move Ahead

Toyota is facing lawsuits all over the country related to problems the automaker's vehicles had with unexpected sudden acceleration. The car accidents that resulted led to many types of injuries. Recently, though, Toyota tried to get some of the federal lawsuits dismissed if the plaintiffs were claiming economic injury on the basis of decreased value of Toyota vehicles.

In essence, the plaintiffs Toyota was referring to are claiming that they suffered damages because Toyota demanded the full price for defect-free vehicles, but then only provided defective vehicles. Toyota wanted federal district court judge James V. Selna to rule that this was not a valid claim for damages.

However, Judge Selna took a different view. He had to assume that the plaintiffs' allegations of economic damage were true for purposes of ruling on Toyota's motion to dismiss. On that basis, the judge said the plaintiffs did establish an economic loss, because a defective vehicle is worth less than a non-defective one.

The ruling does not mean that the plaintiffs have proven economic losses. It only means that the lawsuits with those allegations will move ahead, and the plaintiffs will have the opportunity to prove these losses. Judge Selna's ruling applies to federal lawsuits against Toyota, most of which have been consolidated in his court. There are also numerous lawsuits against Toyota in state courts, and Judge Selna's ruling will have no effect on these cases.

Another interesting possibility, at least from the perspective of Miami car accident attorneys following the news of the lawsuits, is that California state consumer laws might be applied to the Toyota cases before Judge Selna. That state's laws are perceived as being more favorable to the plaintiffs than other states' consumer laws.

Toyota objects to California law being applied to plaintiffs who bought and maintained Toyota vehicles in other states. Judge Selna has yet to rule on the application of state law in the federal lawsuits.

Source: Bloomberg "Toyota Must Face Claims Over Unintended Acceleration, Judge in U.S. Rules" 5/12/2011

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