Toyota economic loss suits still pouring in from owners

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A number of Toyota economic loss suits are pending against the automaker, from people claiming their trade-in values have suffered from the unintended acceleration affair. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Since the unintended acceleration debacle a few years ago, a number of current and former owners have sued Toyota after they felt their cars’ resale values were hurt by it. A number of Toyota economic loss suits are currently pending, as many feel the recalls have diminished the trade-in value.

Number of pending Toyota economic loss suits

As most are aware, Toyota got into hot water over claims of unintended acceleration and subsequent recalls. In car terms, that’s yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, as nothing induces mass panic like reports of a car accelerating all on its own.

That or a shortage of iPhones, which induces hipsters everywhere to completely lose it, as ironically as possible.

A number of past and current owners of Toyota vehicles have been convinced over the years, and they may not be wrong, that because of the recall, their vehicles have been worth less at trade-in. Consequentially, according to Car and Driver, a number of Toyota economic loss suits have been filed against the automaker. Several are currently pending in federal courts in California.

An ongoing matter

The suits in California contend that owners either got less for a trade-in or will, as a result of issue and recall, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found was not Toyota’s fault. It certainly wouldn’t be pleasant, however, to go to a Santa Monica, Portland, Boise, Houston or Atlanta Toyota dealership and get less for a trade-in due to bad P.R.

The term “economic loss” is a bit ambiguous, but what it means is when a monetary value has been diminished without any real damage to persons or property. In other words, since the public reaction and press has been so strong, used Toyotas are worth less because of a perceived defect. Thus, its contended, owners deserve compensation. Toyota has been involved with a number of these suits, with differing results.

A mixed bag

Suits in federal courts in several states have taken place. For instance, according to AutoBlog, Toyota economic loss suits in Florida and New York were tossed by those courts, which found it was impossible to prove an economic loss had occurred. It couldn’t be proven that trade-in values were lessened only because of the unintended acceleration.

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Some plaintiffs still owned their cars and thus weren’t eligible for compensation since they hadn’t experienced a diminished trade-in value. Others hadn’t experienced unintended acceleration, meaning that wasn’t necessarily the cause of a lesser value at trade-in. However, according to Bloomberg, a California lawsuit, in April of 2011, resulted in the judge ruling that a car with a defect was worth less, ergo a basis for the suit existed.

Difficult case to win

Economic loss suits aren’t the easiest to prevail at, according to Car and Driver. Suing for something that doesn’t involve actual damages isn’t the easiest sell to a jury and past economic loss suits against car makers, such as when Ford was sued over the Firestone tires debacle, were usually tossed.


Car and Driver



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