Toyota wins dismissal of the first sudden acceleration lawsuit

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 3, 2011

The first test case for the sudden acceleration suit against Toyota Motor Corp. set to go on trial in California in February 2013 has been dismissed. This first bellwether case was initiated by the families of two people who died in a crash in Utah in 2010. A federal judge said that the case should have been filed in state court in Utah.

In 2009, Toyota recalled at least 8 million U.S. vehicles beginning in 2009, related to claims of unintended acceleration. These recalls had led to the filing of hundreds of economic-loss suits and claims of injuries and deaths.

The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif., after determining that a federal warranty claim in the lawsuit wasn’t able to comply with a required $50,000 threshold for damages.

Selna said that under federal law, the plaintiffs are unable to count potential personal injury or punitive damages to meet this requirement. He cited “lack of jurisdiction” for dismissing the case.

Mark Robinson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that this ruling doesn’t mean that the case won’t be tried or would not remain in federal court.

Robinson said that the warranty claim, brought under the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, is targeted at the dealer and isn’t crucial to the lawsuit filed against Toyota.

He added that the company is currently drafting a complaint where the dealer won’t be a defendant and where “everything will be cured” and the suit will proceed, demanding punitive damages among other costs.

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