Toyota Motor Corp.’s settlement of Canadian economic loss claims in litigation for sudden acceleration issues that forced the recall of millions of its vehicles worldwide has been approved by courts in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. The settlement resolves claims for economic loss from the unintended acceleration brought by owners and lessors of Toyota and Lexus vehicles with electronic throttle control systems. Steven Hamilton, a Toyota owner, filed the lawsuit action on behalf of hundreds of Canadian Toyota consumers in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2010. He alleged that Toyota and CTS Corp., an auto parts supplier, should have known of the defect in the throttling system in models manufactured since 2001.
The settlement, which was first reached in August, provides class members a “customer support program” that for three to 10 years will cover all parts and labor costs for certain components related to the electronic throttle control system. Under the agreement, Toyota class members may also have their vehicles equipped with a “brake override system” free of charge, or they can receive cash payments if their vehicles are not eligible for the upgrade.
The Japanese automotive giant and its affiliates have also agreed to fund scholarships at five Canadian engineering schools totaling $600,000. The company has additionally provided funding for claims administration, notice costs, honoraria for the representative Plaintiffs, legal fees, disbursements and taxes. The final approval of the economic loss settlement doesn’t impact ongoing litigation of personal injury or wrongful death claims.
Toyota issued recalls of millions of its car and trucks in 2009 and 2010 after reports that several vehicles had experienced unintended acceleration. The economic loss cases in America were coordinated for pretrial purposes in California. As you will recall, in July of 2011 a $1.1 billion settlement with a proposed class of roughly 23 million customers in that case was approved. In January, two settlement objectors dropped their opposition to the American economic loss deal in exchange for $1.5 million that will go to auto safety groups.
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