A landmark settlement is in the works in connection with the Toyota sudden acceleration litigation. According to the Detroit News, a federal judge will soon decide whether to grant final approval to a class action settlement covering as many as 22 million current and former Toyota owners over sudden acceleration claims. The settlement is valued at more than $1.6 billion.
Preliminary notices of the settlement, which was reached in December 2012, have already been sent to 22.6 million current and former Toyota owners. The judge presiding over the case will reach a final decision on the settlement on June 14, 2013.
The proposed settlement is not without its opponents, however. Some potential class members have filed objections to the proposed settlement citing various problems with the deal, including the proposed $30 million cy pres award for automotive research, the $200 million in attorney fees to be paid under the settlement, and the potential release of claims in companion litigation regarding anti-lock brake defects in Prius vehicles.
The objectionable $30 million cy pres award for auto research includes $14.2 million for a driver education media campaign, $15 million for research into active safety features, and $800,000 for a consumer study on defense driving and proper use of vehicle safety systems.
Some class members object to the use of settlement funds to create defensive driving studies since the lawsuit was not about driver error, but, rather, auto defects in the vehicles. Accordingly, some class members believe that the use of settlement funds to address driver error would be an appropriate use of settlement funds.
“As the specific allegations of the complaint demonstrate, this lawsuit is not about defective drivers or driver error caused [unintended acceleration],” wrote Mark Chavez of Chavez & Gertler in Mill Valley, Calif., an attorney for two Maryland class members who filed an objection on May 10.
Sudden acceleration defects are a pervasive auto defect that can cause considerable injuries and damages. Earlier this year, Ford Motor Corp. was named in a multistate lawsuit alleging that 2002-2010 Ford Motor vehicles contain a “design defect” in the electronic control of the gas pedals, which makes the vehicles susceptible to sudden, unintended acceleration. The lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of Ford owners in 14 states. According to the lawsuit, the alleged defect stems from the lack of brake override technology, which stops a car if both the brake and gas pedal are activated at the same time. The technology was added to all Ford vehicles beginning in 2010.
What Should I Do If My Car Has a Defect?
If you have suffered injuries or damages as a result of a defective vehicle, you may wish to consult with an attorney. The Chicago product liability law firm of Ankin Law Office, LLC is dedicated to protecting consumers from dangerous and defective products, including defective vehicles. Contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury and product liability attorneys at (312) 600-0000 if you would like more information on defective vehicles.