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Toyota Sued Over Sudden Acceleration Claims

Posted: Nov 09, 2009 09:35 a.m.

An ongoing investigation into claims that some Toyota and Lexus models may accelerate without warning or input from the driver has taken a new twist, as a class action lawsuit has been filed in California.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the suit, “Filed Thursday by two Los Angeles County residents claims that the majority of Toyota and Lexus vehicles made since 2001 contain defective components that can cause unintended acceleration.”  Though there are currently only two plaintiffs, the pair’s attorneys have asked the court to grant them class-action status.  Attorneys are seeking others affected by the alleged defect to join the case.

The concerns gained a national profile after a late August crash in which a Lexus accelerated out of control and crashed into an SUV, killing four.  Investigators believe that the driver’s side floormat in that vehicle may have trapped its accelerator pedal, causing the car to accelerate.  The San Diego Union-Tribune notes, “Toyota is advising owners to remove all driver-side mats from certain Toyota and Lexus models and is preparing for a recall, once the automaker and federal officials determine the underlying defects that may be behind the incidents.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, however, allege that that explanation may not be accurate.  Autoblog reports, “According to the suit, Toyota has known about reports of unintended acceleration for years and has received over 2,000 such complaints. Citing statistics from Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., the lawsuit alleges that there have been 16 fatalities and 243 injuries from Toyota and Lexus crashes attributed to runaway vehicles.”  Attorneys for the lawfirm MuCuneWright said in a statement, “[N]either driver error nor floormats can explain away many other frightening instances of runaway Toyotas. Until the company acknowledges the real problem and fixes it, we worry that other preventable injuries and deaths will occur.”

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