California judge combines state court claims against Toyota Jaclyn Belczyk at 2:08 PM ET
[JURIST] A California judge on Wednesday consolidated more than 40 pending state court claims against Toyota [corporate website; JURIST news archive] relating to an alleged safety defect that caused cars to accelerate out of control. The claims include consumer-fraud class action and personal injury lawsuits. Judge Carl West of the Los Angeles County Superior Court [official website] recommended [Reuters report] that the state court lawsuits be heard by a judge in Orange County. The final decision on whether to consolidate the claims will be made by state Supreme Court [official website] Chief Justice Ronald George, who is expected to announce his decision in two to three weeks. Toyota is also facing more than 100 federal lawsuits, which were consolidated [JURIST report] last month. The state and federal claims will remain separate.
Last month, Toyota accepted a record civil penalty of $16.375 million [JURIST report] imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [official website] for a four-month delay in notifying the agency about a problem with "sticky" and "slow to return pedal" gas pedals in various car models. The fine, the largest ever assessed against a car maker, was based on a preliminary review of extensive corporate documents attained through an investigation [press release] launched by the NHTSA in February. Toyota has been under federal scrutiny since December 2009, and has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.