For most people across California, the New Year will mean fulfilling resolutions and making a fresh start. For Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California however, 2013 will mean finally wrapping up the product-liability lawsuits filed against Toyota related to the accelerator issues a few years back.
At present time, there are still two more federal cases to be heard that involve more than a hundred individuals all with claims of personal injury, economic loss, and even death.
According to a statement released by Toyota this month, the company has agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to settle the claims that have already been decided and also for the ones that are still to come. At present time, the case is among the biggest in U.S. class actions involving automobiles.
Nearly 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles that were sold in the U.S. are covered by the class action. But if word doesn't get out to even a small portion of these people, the accelerator pedal malfunction could cause more injuries and even more deaths.
The choice to settle the products liability suits came with great difficulty, explains a representative from the general counsel for Toyota Motor Sales because all of their scientific data and multiple independent evaluations seemed to indicate that the electronic throttle systems were safe. "However, we concluded that turning the page on this legacy legal issue through the positive steps we are taking is in the best interests of the company, our employees, our dealers and, most of all, our customers."
Source: Reuters News, "UPDATE 4-Toyota seeks to settle acceleration case for $1.1 bln," Deppa Seetharaman and Bernie Woodall, Dec. 27, 2012