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Toyota's other pedal problem: Lawsuits

Recent Outbreaks     updated  2010/02/02 09:30

Last week, Toyota stopped selling eight models in the United States and Canada, including its popular Camry and Corolla, because of possible unintended acceleration.

Some 8 million vehicles are up for repair worldwide over problems including alleged faulty accelerator pedals made by the supplier CTS Corp, and the possibility that floor mats could jam the accelerator pedal.

Other recalled Toyota vehicles are the Avalon, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sequoia and Tundra.

The problems have tarnished Toyota's reputation for making some of the most reliable vehicles on the road. It is the most prominent auto safety issue since reports surfaced in 2000 that many Firestone tires mounted on Ford Explorers failed.

"Liability for Toyota could run in the billions of dollars, because of the number of vehicles involved and the fact there are serious injury and death claims," said Gary Robb, a partner at Robb & Robb LLC in Kansas City, Missouri. He said his firm has fielded inquiries from consumers and may sue Toyota.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has no proof that anyone was injured by a stuck pedal. It said it has confirmed to its satisfaction that five people have died as a result of floor mat entrapment.

Since November, at least 10 lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed against Toyota in U.S. courts and in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada.

It is possible that some U.S. litigation could be combined because the claims are similar and it would be too unwieldy to try cases one owner at a time.

Toyota on Monday had no immediate comment on the lawsuits.

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