Trial for the initial cases against Toyota Motor Corp. related to sudden acceleration claims is expected in the first three months of 2013, according to U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif. At a recent hearing, Judge Selna said that all pre-trial discovery of evidence should be concluded in 2012.
He asked plaintiffs’ lawyers who are filing wrongful-death, personal-injury and economic-loss claims to be ready to choose so-called bellwether cases to be tried before him. Judge Selna said that “substantial progress” has been made in this litigation and that the trial of these cases is a step forward.
Toyota has about 400 pending lawsuits that allege lost vehicle value or injury or death from sudden acceleration. Judge Selna didn't indicate if the 2013 trials would involve economic loss or death and injury claims.
Bellwether cases are picked out from groups of lawsuits to serve as lead cases to test the strengths and weaknesses for both plaintiffs and defendants and to give a sign of how juries will rule and how much they would award in damages.
Mark Robinson, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, and Vincent Galvin, one of Toyota's attorneys, have told the judge that they agree with his timetable.
Judge Selna, who has been presiding over the cases that were consolidated last year by a federal judicial panel, will also decide if the cases will be classified as class-action, or group, lawsuits. [via bloomberg]