A class action lawsuit has been filed against Toyota Motor Corp. in a South Carolina federal court. This is the latest litigation the automaker faces over allegedly defective dashboards that melt and create a glossy film that drivers say reduces visibility. Melissa Graham, the Plaintiff in the case, claims the 2009 Toyota Camry she bought contains one of the defective dashboards. She says that the manufacturer concealed the problem from her and all other South Carolina consumers who are now stuck paying for repairs themselves because the vehicles’ warranties have lapsed. It’s alleged in the complaint:
Unbeknownst to consumers, Toyota designed, manufactured, distributed, marketed and sold certain automobiles with defective dashboards that melt or degrade upon prolonged exposure to the sun. Because the nature of this defect is that the degradation occurs over time, it was a hidden defect from consumers at the time of purchase.
The suit lists model year 2007 through 2009 Camrys, as well as 2006 through 2008 Lexus IS and ES vehicles. The filing expands the reach of litigation Toyota faces over the problem from a first class action that was filed in Florida earlier this year that targeted only the Lexus brand.
At press time it was unclear whether class actions have been filed in other states. However, a number of complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over Toyota vehicles with melting dashboards. In 2011, after most of the models’ warranties had expired, Lexus issued a technical service bulletin notifying customers that the 2006-2008 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 “may exhibit sticky interior panels that have a shiny/degraded appearance.”
But it’s contended in the Graham complaint that Toyota used a similar defective dashboard design for the 2006-2008 Lexus ES and the 2007-2009 Toyota Camry and did not notify customers who had purchased those vehicles of a potential problem. Additionally, Toyota did not inform buyers that it had found a way to fix the defective dashboards and deliberately concealed the nature of the defect from consumers. Because the repairs were needed outside the time frame of the warranty, Toyota profited off of the defect by offloading the responsibility for repair costs to consumers.
The proposed class action was filed on behalf of all South Carolina residents who purchased the models-in-suit and accuses Toyota of breach of express and implied warranty. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
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