In a ruling posted on a panel of judges' Web site, lawsuits against Toyota Motor Corp. related to unintended acceleration will be consolidated in a federal court in Santa Ana, Calif. US District Judge James V. Selna will oversee the class actions and personal injury cases. September is the month that Toyota first announced the recall due to unintended acceleration.
To date, the carmaker had received at least 177 consumer and shareholder lawsuits seeking class action status and at least 57 individual suits claiming personal injuries or deaths.
Toyota and the lawyers for the complainants have submitted court filings and have stated during a March 25 hearing their request to combine the federal suits in a multidistrict litigation, where one judge overseeing the litigation would decide issues such as evidence-gathering and allowable legal arguments.
The lawsuits will be combined in federal court near Toyota's US sales headquarters in Torrance, Calif. The judges' panel said that the central District of California "is the most appropriate choice" due to its proximity to Toyota headquarters.
The panel added that centralization "will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary."