Dozens of lawsuits against Toyota Motor Corp. claiming unintended acceleration of its vehicles are moving along in state courts. Discovery in these cases could help plaintiffs’ counsel in the federal multidistrict litigation. Also in this special report: why federal enforcement of safety standards failed, how lobbyists for Toyota are scrambling to rebuild its image with lawmakers, and who the key players are in the ongoing litigation against Toyota. Plus our list of the lawsuits that have been filed so far.

Act 1 for Toyota
Toyota Motor Corp.’s legal problems aren’t limited to the federal multidistrict litigation over unintended acceleration of its vehicles. Scores of lawsuits are working their way through state courts across the nation, and some of them could pave the road for the MDL.

Toyota troubles shielded by agency
Since 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened — and closed — five investigations of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles before the automaker recalled about 6 million vehicles in the United States. Why didn’t the agency take action on the earlier complaints? 

Congress drafts stricter auto rules
Publicly, Congress has done little on the Toyota recalls since a series of tense hearings two months ago. Behind the scenes, however, Toyota Motor Corp. has been waging a lobbying campaign to rebuild its image.

Fellow travelers in Toyota MDL
The 26 lawyers appointed to steer the nationwide litigation against Toyota Motor Corp. have traveled down similar roads before, having obtained billion-dollar settlements in some of the nation’s largest mass actions involving catastrophic automobile defects.

 

 

A TIMELINE OF THE TOYOTA LITIGATION
Explore our interactive archive of NLJ coverage of the ongoing litigation against Toyota Motors Sales USA.

 

THE KEY PLAYERS

DAN BECNEL JR.
Becnel Law Firm
• First attorney to apply for co-lead counsel of the multidistrict litigation  against Toyota Motor Corp.
• Promises to play a central role in the litigation.

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STEVE BERMAN
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
• Played a role in some of the highest-profile class actions of the past 15 years.
• His firm has since filed 12 class actions seeking refunds for owners of recalled Toyotas.
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ELIZABETH CABRASER
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
• Lead counsel or co-lead in more than 80 multidistrict and state class actions.
• Her firm has filed at least 20 personal injury lawsuits on behalf of Toyota owners.
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MARC SELTZER
Susman Godfrey

• Played an instrumental role in getting the MDL in the Central District of California.
• His firm is filing lawsuits for Toyota car buyers seeking payback for their financial losses, the largest category of cases.
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CARI DAWSON
Alston & Bird
• Leading Toyota’s defense in the multidistrict litigation.
• Spent the past decade defending major companies in class actions,
winning numerous summary judgments and defeating multiple class certifications.

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