Toyota’s unintended acceleration suits could last decades

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 26, 2012

Toyota has got an enormous task ahead of it as it prepares to respond to hundreds of suits that claim that their vehicles experienced unintended acceleration. Its defense counsel is faced with countless queries and motions by the lawyers of plaintiffs that want a multibillion-dollar payout for their clients. This is expected to be a long and arduous legal battle for Toyota.

It won’t be until early 2013 before the court hears the first "bellwether" trial from Toyota's problems involving unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010. It’s likely that discovery depositions will take place for a minimum of six more months.

If we look at what Audi of America underwent in the late 1980s with similar legal cases over unintended acceleration, it’s suggestive that Toyota would be defending how trustworthy its vehicles are for decades.

Toyota isn’t willing to bend or quickly settle the case. According to Chris Reynolds, Toyota's chief North American legal officer, the trials cast doubt on Toyota’s image when it comes to quality and engineering.

Reynolds said that there won’t be compromises over this issue. When Toyota was interviewed by Automotive News, it said that it has two defense teams. Reynolds leads the in-house team, which is referred to as the State Department.

It establishes the overall strategy. The in-house team negotiates any settlement. On the other hand, Toyota has an outside counsel headed by Joel Smith and Lisa Gilford, known internally as the War Department. They would go up against the plaintiff attorneys and counter their filings. [source: Autonews]

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