Toyota is being sued by a California prosecutor for ignoring defects, by a Seattle lawyer for a refund of the recalled vehicles, and by the Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium for racketeering.
So then, let’s start with the California prosecutor. The man in question is Orange County, California District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. He claims Toyota has been ignoring and misrepresenting evidence of unintended acceleration for many years, before finally giving in and announcing a recall. DA Rackauckas’ complaint said, “Rather than halt sales of products in California until it genuinely fixed the problem, (Toyota) made the business decision to continue selling their defective products.” If Toyota is found liable, they could face a penalty of up to $2,500 per sold car. Ouch. That’s going to hurt.
On to the Seattle lawyer’s lawsuit. Mr. Steve Berman is suing Toyota on behalf of “dozens” of owners in Arizona and Washington. Most lawsuits involve getting a refund equivalent to the drop in value resulting from the recalls, an estimated $500 according to Kelly Blue Book. Lawyers in those cases estimated that Toyota will need $3 billion to cover everyone. These guys demand a full refund. This lawsuit seeks class-action status, and if it goes nationwide, it’ll have to cover millions of Toyotas across the country. If the $500-per-owner lawsuit would cost them $3 billion, I can only imagine the enormous price of a full refund lawsuit.
Lastly, the Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium, a group of attorneys responsible for Toyota lawsuits across the US, are adding racketeering claims to their long list of lawsuits. The attorney responsible for this particular case is Northeastern University law professor Tim Howard. “It’s become increasingly apparent that Toyota profits were not built on quality products, but on a willful pattern of deception, fraud and racketeering,” said Mr. Howard. He says that if this lawsuit is successful, it will push Toyota’s class-action damages above the $10 billion mark.
With the costs beginning to look so insane, I’m really beginning to wonder whether or not Toyota will actually survive this scandal. Only time will tell.