Toyota class-action suit worth up to $1.6 billion on the way

Toyota had to recall millions of vehicles with breaking problems in 2010, and a class action lawsuit worth up to $1.6 billion will be decided next month.

  • close
    A Toyota Motor Corp.,'s model is on display at the automaker's Tokyo head office in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 8, 2013.The automaker is heading for a huge class-action lawsuit stemming from widespread breaking problems in 2010
    Itsuo Inouye/AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

In 2010, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles for "unintended acceleration" issues, which generated lots of negative press for the automaker and put the brakes on Toyota sales.

Though the recall has fallen out of the headlines, it's still the subject of a huge class action lawsuit working its way through federal court. According to a report in Detroit News, that case could be settled within the next month, and up to $1.6 billion hangs in the balance.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began receiving complaints about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles as far back as 2002, but it took the 2009 deaths of California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three of his family members to bring the issue to the public's attention.

Numerous investigations, accusationsspeculations, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories later, some conclusions were reached. In 2011, NHTSA revealed that it found no electronic flaws on Toyota vehicles that might've resulted in sudden acceleration. However, there were problems with the design of Toyota's accelerator pedals, which had caused them to become trapped beneath floormats in some cases. 

Toyota has been reluctant to accept blame in the matter and maintains that its electronics systems were never at fault. Earlier this year, however, the company settled out of court on a wrongful death case related to sudden acceleration. And now, Toyota is hoping for a repeat performance in one of the largest class action lawsuits in automotive history.


One month from today, U.S. District Judge James Selna will determine whether a $1.63 billion settlement in that class action case is fair to plaintiffs. If he rules in Toyota's favor, much of that cash will be distributed to current and previous Toyota, Lexus, and Scion owners, reimbursing them for the loss in resale value their vehicles suffered following the recall. 

Settlement funds will also be allocated to:

  • Legal fees accrued by Toyota owners ($200 million)
  • Research into active safety features ($15 million)
  • A media campaign aimed at driver education ($14.2 million)
  • A study of defensive driving and proper use of existing safety systems ($800,000)

If you've owned a Toyota, Lexus, or Scion vehicle, you could be one of 9,000,000 people entitled to cash payments ranging from $37.50 to $125. To learn more, visit, or jump directly to the informative PDF

We'll keep you posted as the case progresses.

[h/t John Voelcker]


The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.