Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Class Action Lawsuits: Toyota basically created “a Ritz Carlton for the rats”

Florida woman sues Toyota for rodent-chewed wires

Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 

            Florida woman sues Toyota for rodent-chewed wires
A Florida woman is suing Toyota, claiming that soy-based insulation made the wires in her car a tasty treat for rats. (Graphic illustration provided by

A Florida woman is suing Toyota, claiming that soy-based insulation made the wires in her car an attractive edible for rats, squirrels and other rodents, who caused major damage to her RAV4.
Janice Toler filed a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Monday in federal court.
The car company changed from petroleum-based wire insulation "in the name of profit and cost-cutting," the lawsuit says.
Rodents caused $5,500 in damage to Toler's 2015 RAV4, which the dealership refused to fix under her warranty, Toler said in the suit.
She took her vehicle to a Toyota dealership on Oct. 13 and a service consultant told her that rodents had done extensive damage, the lawsuit says.
He showed her where the rodents had chewed through the wires and left behind urine and feces, Toler said.
The Toyota employee told her that "the car would require a total rewiring because rodents had chewed up almost every wire in the engine compartment," the lawsuit says.
When she called the company's regional office to complain, Toler claims that the person she spoke with on the phone said rodent damage is "not Toyota's problem."
In the lawsuit, Toler said she considers the soy-based insulation a defect, which should be covered under the warranty.
Toyota considers rodent damage "an environmental condition that is not covered under the warranty," the suit says.
Toler points to numerous other Toyota owners who have filed complaints with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration over rodent damage connected to soy-based wire insulation.
One person told the NTHSA that a 2015 RAV4 that had been owned for 10 days stopped working because of rodent damage.
As of Tuesday morning, Toyota had not responded to the lawsuit.

Toyota Facing Class Action Over Soy-Based Wiring Insulation

Dec 19, 2016
Corrado Rizzi

Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. are the defendants in a proposed class action alleging the soy-based wiring insulation included in certain vehicle models entices rodents to “chew through, eat, or otherwise damage and compromise” the cars’ wiring. The lawsuit notes that this issue can be catastrophic and damage wiring systems to the point where vehicles become “partially or completely inoperable.”
The complaint notes that the below vehicle models (thus far) may be affected by the soy-based wiring insulation problem:
  • 2011-2016 4Runner
  • 2013 Avalon
  • 2012-2013 Camry Hybrid
  • 2009-2016 Camry
  • 2014 FJ Cruiser
  • 2010, 2015 Prius
  • 2012-2015 Prius C
  • 2012, 2015 Prius V
  • 2008-2016 Rav4
  • 2015 Sequoia
  • 2012 Sienna
  • 2014, 2015 Tacoma
  • 2009-2016 Tundra
  • 2009, 2015 Highlander
  • 2014, 2016 Corolla
  • 2010, 2013 Venza Ltd.
Filed in Florida, the 36-page lawsuit argues that Toyota was or should have been aware of the issue surrounding its soy-based wiring insulation, yet did not disclose this alleged defect to consumers and has routinely refused to repair affected vehicles or issue a recall. 
The complaint notes that car wiring is typically coated or covered with plastic- or glass-based insulation. Over the last decade or so, however, car makers have shifted away from these materials to both cut costs and explore the use of new, more recyclable materials. According to the case, Toyota has taken this measure too far.
“The safety concerns that accompany failures in automobile electrical systems are obvious, and Toyota’s continued use of soy-based wiring insulation poses a legitimate threat to the safety of [the plaintiff], class members, prospective purchasers or lessees of Class Vehicles, and other drivers on the road,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit later claims that despite knowledge of the alleged defect, Toyota refuses to honor consumers’ warranties, often pleading the soy-based insulation problems are excluded from coverage due to an “other environmental conditions” exemption.
The suit seeks to cover a proposed class of consumers nationwide who bought or leased a Class Vehicle with soy-based wiring insulation, as well as a Florida-specific subclass of individuals who fit the aforementioned criteria and incurred out-of-pocket expenses related to the issue.


By Ashley Milano 
December 8, 2016 

A new class action lawsuit claims thousands of Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs are defective because they contain soy wiring materials that are very attractive to rodents, resulting in costly repairs for their owners.
Plaintiff Heidi Browder says she’s been battling rodent damage under her 2015 Toyota Avalon which she attributes to soy-based wiring materials.
The lawsuit, which requests class action status on behalf of thousands of Toyota owners nationwide, claims the automaker recently switched the materials used to protect wiring inside the electrical systems of its vehicles.
The lawsuit, which requests class action status on behalf of thousands of Toyota owners nationwide, claims the automaker recently switched the materials used to protect wiring inside the electrical systems of its vehicles.
Instead of using plastic or glass-based insulation derived from petroleum, the lawsuit claims Toyota now uses a soy-based wiring material that is promoted as more environmentally-friendly.
While soy-based wiring may be better for the environment, Browder says it also baits rodents and animals – including rats, squirrels, and other pests – to the vehicles and entices them to chew through, eat, or otherwise damage and compromise vehicles’ wiring and wiring insulation.
Browder first started experiencing problems last month when she allegedly tried starting her Toyota Avalon multiple times without any luck. She lifted the hood of the car and reportedly observed a rodent scurry across the top of the engine. Browder says she also observed damage to the wires under the hood and had her vehicle towed to a Toyota dealership.
A couple hours later, a Toyota service technician reported to Browder that there was rodent damage to her car and instructed her to contact her insurance company to see if they would cover the rodent damage. The technician indicated that the damage would cost between $5,600 to $6,000 to repair.
Browder contacted her insurance carrier and after paying a $500 deductible, the vehicle was repaired under her insurance. She then proceeded to inquire if the rodent damage was covered under Toyota’s warranty, but was told by a Toyota service representative that it was not covered because “any outside source of damage to the car” is not covered. The service rep also allegedly stated that rodent damage is “not uncommon” and the rodent damage “happens a lot” with Toyota vehicles.
This prompted to Browder to review her warranty which essentially states coverage is excluded for “airborne chemicals, tree sap, road debris, rail dust, salt, hail, floods, wind storms, lightening, and other environmental conditions.”
Browder points to numerous complaints posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and other consumer sources which reveal rodents are uniquely attracted to the soy materials in the Toyota vehicles.
Yet despite the fact that Toyota is aware or should be aware of the issue with the soy wiring, it refuses to cover repairs for these vehicles, leaving consumers with little options except to pay for costly repairs out-of-pocket.
But Browder contends that Toyota’s warranty should cover customer repairs since the damage caused by the rodents or other animals chewing on the soy wiring is not an “other environmental condition.”
The lawsuit seeks recovery for monetary and equitable relief for Toyota’s breach of warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and violations of Texas’ consumer protection laws. Browder also seeks recovery based upon Toyota’s unjust enrichment, and declaratory relief.
Browder and the proposed Class are represented by Cory S. Fein of Cory S. Fein PC.
The Toyota Soy Wiring Class Action Lawsuit is Browder v. Toyota Motor Corporation, et al., Case No. 3:16-cv-03387, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.

13 Investigates: Lawsuit says Toyota vehicles attract rodents, causing costly repairs

13 Investigates: Lawsuit says Toyota vehicles attract rodents, causing costly repairs


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A new class action lawsuit claims millions of Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs are defective because they contain materials that are very attractive to rodents, resulting in costly repairs for their owners.
The lawsuit has been filed in California, but the lead plaintiff is a Hoosier who has been battling rodent damage under his 2012 Toyota Tundra for several years.
“I had no knowledge when I bought this vehicle what was done,” Albert Heber told WTHR outside his home in Delphi, Ind. “I feel the manufacturer bears responsibility for changing materials…and it has been a big disappointment and very expensive.”
Heber’s problems started in fall 2013, when his new pickup truck had less than 4,000 miles. That’s when the vehicle’s “check engine” warning light first appeared. It has remained lit ever since.
“It’s on all the time. It never goes off,” Heber said.
Al Heber says rodents keep chewing through wires under his truck. He blames Toyota for using insulation that attracts animals.
A mechanic at a Toyota dealership in Lafayette discovered what had triggered the warning light: rodent damage under the vehicle.
“It was a vapor hose in the back that was chewed almost completely in half. I was taken totally by surprise,” Heber told 13 Investigates, climbing under his Tundra to show the damage.
Catching the culprit
Over the next three years, the damage – and the emergence of new warning lights – would only get worse.
The anti-lock brake warning light was next. Then the low fuel light started glowing – even when the gas tank was full.
A 4-wheel drive warning light starting blinking non-stop after that.
And Heber noticed his cruise control was no longer working.
During a routine drive to the grocery store, the vehicle’s dashboard is now lit up like a Christmas tree.
Five warning symbols light up the dashboard. The truck owner says they’re caused by rodent damage.
Another inspection at the dealership showed more signs of rodent damage, including damaged wiring harnesses and a front brake sensor wire that had been chewed to pieces. Heber thinks he might have caught the culprit red-handed.
“I was right here looking out my [porch] window. I saw a squirrel on its hind legs between the two rear tires, crawling up into the bottom of my truck,” he said.
Who’s responsible?
Repairing all the damage will cost about $2,200, according to estimates provided to Heber. Even though the Tundra still has fewer than 14,000 miles, Toyota will not cover the cost of repairs.
Al Heber says it will cost him about $2200 to repair all the rodent damage to his Toyota.
“The dealer declined warranty coverage and said it was my problem,” explained Heber, shaking his head. “I think they should cover it.”
At first, the loyal Toyota customer figured his was simply unlucky. Living in a home that is nearly surrounded by corn fields in rural Indiana, Heber understands squirrels and mice come with the neighborhood.
But then he discovered he isn't alone.
Online research revealed other Toyota owners across the country have been complaining their vehicles have been damaged by rodents, too. Heber also found attorney Brian Kabateck, who says the automaker is as much to blame as the rodents.
“This is a situation where they created the problem. They actually put it there and created it,” said Kabateck, who now represents Heber -- and potentially millions of other Toyota owners nationwide.
“Ritz Carlton for rats”
In August, Kabateck filed a lawsuit against Toyota in United States District Court in California. The suit, which requests class-action status on behalf of millions of Toyota owners nationwide, claims the automaker recently switched the materials used to protect wiring inside the electrical systems of its vehicles. Instead of using a plastic or glass-based insulation derived from petroleum, the lawsuit claims several automakers, including Toyota, now use soy-based insulation that is promoted as more environmentally-friendly. While that soy-based product may be better for the environment, Kabateck says it is also better – and more delicious – for rodents, who are attracted to it as a food source.
“It would literally be like putting honey in your car or peanut butter in your car and then acting surprised that insects and ants and bees are being attracted to it,” the attorney said. “You're effectively putting something there that the rats want, in an environment that the rats want. It's almost like you're creating a Ritz Carlton for the rats.”
Al Heber says he’s spent three years dealing with rodent damage under his Toyota Tundra.
But is the automaker really to blame? After all, reports of rodent damage under the hoods of cars date back decades – long before manufacturers reportedly transitioned to new materials. Kabateck believes the recent complaints from car owners suggest the problem is not merely routine.
“[Rodent damage] is going to happen and, more often than not, that’s not the manufacturer’s fault. It’s not their problem. It’s just a known issue that could happen to a car, just like a tree falling on a car or a car being parked someplace and a flood comes along and carries it away,” he said. “But because this problem is known to exist – it’s known people will have rodents chew away at their wires -- you don’t make the wires out of something that’s edible, that then becomes, frankly, a trap for these rats.”
The attorney admits he is not sure exactly how widespread the problem is, but he filed the case as a class-action complaint after seeing “a lot” of complaints.
“This is a real issue,” he said.
Not just Toyotas
Many mechanics agree.
“We've seen ground squirrels. We see mice. We see rats. We see a lot more of that than we used to 40 years ago,” said Mark Buche, owner of B&M Auto Electrical Specialists in Lafayette, Ind. “Everybody tells me they're using soy products in the wiring insulation. It must be very attractive to them… They don't just eat the insulation, they chew right into the wiring.”
Mechanic Mark Buche says he sees one or two vehicles a week with rodent damage like these chewed wires for an airflow sensor.
Buche told WTHR he now sees one or two vehicles each week with wiring destroyed by rodents. On the day 13 Investigates visited his repair shop, Buche was working on a 2012 Toyota 4Runner damaged by a raccoon. That damage (chewed wires leading from the oil pressure sensor and the anti-lock brake harness) rendered the vehicle undriveable. It was towed to the shop, where repair costs were expected to cost about $500.
“I’ve seen vehicles with thousands of dollars in damage,” said Buche, who is currently working on three Toyotas damaged by rodents. He sees lots of other vehicles, too.
“I see it with everything. There's no make or model that's exempt,” the mechanic said.
Earlier this year, Honda was sued for the same problem. The company now sells rodent-deterring tape – an electrical tape treated with the super-spicy active component in chili peppers – that you can use to wrap around the wires of your car. Critics point to the tape as proof that major automakers know their soy-based wiring insulation is prone to rodent damage and problematic for consumers.
“It really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a potential problem,” Kabateck said. “[Toyota] doesn’t disclose anywhere that the wiring is soy-based. They also don’t disclose they had prior complaints from customers.”
Chasing away the rodents
While Heber has not used rodent tape, he has tried lots of other strategies to keep rodents away from his truck.
“Cayenne pepper, we tried sprinkling that on the vehicle. I’ve used moth balls. Live traps. Finally, right now, we are using cats that are hopefully deterring the squirrels,” he said.
Heber says he agreed to serve as lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit against Toyota to hold the automaker accountable, and he hopes the lawsuit will prompt changes that prevent hassles -- and repair bills -- for other drivers.
Attorney Brian Kabateck says Toyota basically created “a Ritz Carlton for the rats” by using a soy-based wire insulation.



TOYOTA ignored complaints about HEADLIGHTS....

Instead, TOYOTA fills our courts with CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS rather than acting HONORABLY....and correcting known problems.....