Toyota Sudden, Unintended Acceleration (SUA)

DEFENDANT NAME: Toyota Motor Corp.
CASE NUMBER: 10-ml-02151
COURT: U.S. District Court
PRACTICE AREA: Consumer Rights
STATUS: Settled
DATE FILED: 03/15/10
COURT LOCATION: Multiple States

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Case Settled

This case has settled, and checks have been issued to Toyota Diminished Value Claimants. The average check issued was $472.59, the highest check issued was $5,977.00, and the lowest check issued was $125.00. For its work in the case, Hagens Berman was selected as a finalist for the 2014 Trial Lawyer of the Year award.

Hagens Berman was co-lead counsel in this massive MDL alleging that Toyota vehicles contained a defect causing sudden, unintended acceleration (SUA). It is the largest automotive settlement in history, valued at up to $1.6 billion in benefits for class members.

The firm did not initially seek to lead the litigation, but was sought out by the judge for its wealth of experience in managing very complex class-action MDLs. Hagens Berman and managing partner Steve Berman agreed to take on the role of co-lead counsel for the economic loss class and head the plaintiffs’ steering committee.

Hagens Berman worked tenaciously to push the case forward, surviving multiple motions to dismiss despite the inability of researchers, including NASA and NHTSA, to replicate SUA in a lab. The firm continued to fight during discovery, deposing hundreds of engineers and working with experts to analyze millions of lines of computer source code.

Managing partner Steve Berman led settlement negotiations with Toyota, achieving a settlement that is astonishing both because of its value as well as its breadth. The settlement will provide for the installation of brake-override systems in vehicles, $250 million for owners of vehicles that are not eligible for the systems, another $250 million for Toyota owners who sold their vehicles, and a customer care plan for all 16 million current owners that will warranty parts allegedly related to SUA for between three and 10 years.

U.S. District Court Judge James Selna, who oversaw the MDL, called the settlement results “extraordinary” and “exceptional.” He praised Hagens Berman’s efforts, noting as he approved attorneys’ fees and costs that “class counsel has consistently demonstrated extraordinary skill and effort.”

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