A judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] on Friday denied a motion by Toyota [corporate website; JURIST news archive] to dismiss a class action lawsuit [materials] filed over the alleged sudden-acceleration defects. A final ruling is expected within the next two weeks [Bloomberg report]. Last month, Judge James Selna agreed to dismiss economic damage claims from foreign Toyota buyers, citing a lack of standing.
In December, Toyota settled [JURIST report] US federal investigations by agreeing to pay a record $32.4 million in extra fines for product defects and poor handling of a recall. The fines stem from two investigations conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [official website]. The first, a fine of $16.375 million, concerned nearly five million vehicles with accelerator pedals entrapped by floor mats, which caused at least one fatal accident in California. The second, a fine of $16.050 million, resulted from Toyota's failure to notify the NHTSA of a safety defect in several Toyota models' steering relay rods. Toyota has been under federal scrutiny since December 2009, and has conducted several recalls. Toyota's product recalls have been analyzed by Forum guest columnist Bruce Aronson of Creighton University School of Law in the op-ed Learning from Toyota's Troubles - Where's the Board? [JURIST op-ed].