Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ida Starr St. John

Think about it!

In an accident, a Lincoln/Mercury protected me with a number of FORD SAFETY FEATURES, including the electric fuel pump that shut off on impact, allowing my vehicle to come to rest on someone's front lawn.

TOYOTA keeps arguing '...state of the art braking...'

TOYOTA argues '....driver error....' ' computer error messages....' [because they make their error codes unavailable].....

Before you purchase a TOYOTA, do your research!

Toyota MDL plaintiffs seek approval of $1.6 billion settlement

Plaintiffs who claim that sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota cars and trucks ruined the value of their vehicles have asked a federal judge in Los Angeles to approve a $1.63 billion settlement of their economic damage class action.

Their brief in support of approval calls the settlement “a landmark, if not a record, settlement in automobile defect class-action litigation in the United States.”

(Westlaw users: Click here for more stories from Westlaw Journal Automotive.)

They say the settlement should be approved to the case “after three years of intensely fought litigation involving nearly endless motion practice, the production of millions of documents, hundreds of depositions, discovery of 43 experts and two interlocutory appeals.”

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna of the Central District of California, presiding over the multidistrict litigation, preliminarily approved the settlement in December 2012, directed notice to the class and scheduled a fairness hearing for June 14.

At the time the automaker asked the court to approve the agreement, Toyota Motor Sales USA general counsel Christopher Reynolds said the settlement was in the best interests of the company and its customers.

“This was a difficult decision, especially since reliable scientific evidence and multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle-control systems,” Reynolds said.
About 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles sold in the United States spanning the model years 1998 to 2010 are covered by the settlement.

Company officials have maintained the electronic throttle control system was not at fault, blaming ill-fitting floor mats and sticky gas pedals. A study by federal safety officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA found no link between reports of unintended acceleration and Toyota’s electronic throttle-control system.

The agreement does not cover wrongful-death or injury lawsuits, several of which have been settled individually. The next such case is set for trial in November and involves a 2009 accident in Georgia.

In that case, 84-year-old Ida Starr St. John, now deceased, claimed her 2005 Toyota Camry accelerated out of control and struck a tree, a fence and a school building.

Plaintiffs: ‘Truly exceptional recovery’

According to the plaintiffs’ brief, the cash value of the class-action settlement is $757 million. This figure includes a $250 million “alleged diminished value fund,” a $250 million cash fund for plaintiffs not eligible for installation of a brake-override system and $30 million to fund university-based automotive and transportation research initiatives. It also includes $200 million in attorney fees and $27 million in costs.

“The settlement’s significant non-monetary benefits are worth even more and are valued at approximately $875 million,” the plaintiffs say.

Class members can have a “brake override system” installed at no cost, a provision the plaintiffs value at $400 million.

“This will provide an important safety enhancement that is directly related to the risk of floor mat entrapment in over 6.3 million vehicles Toyota recalled for such a risk, because BOS reduces engine power when both the brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions,” the brief says.

A $475 million customer support program calls for prospective adjustments and repairs to specific acceleration system components, extending warranty coverage for the lesser of 10 years or 150,000 miles, with a minimum of three years.

In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 8:10-ML-2151, plaintiffs’ brief in support of final approval filed (C.D. Cal. Apr. 23, 2013).