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Sudden Acceleration: The Lawsuits Filed Against Toyota

As might be expected, the number of lawsuits over Toyota vehicles has grown sharply. According to a Bloomberg news report, several different groups of plaintiffs have filed at least 29 suits in California, Texas and South Carolina. It is likely that, as the suits advance and others are filed, the U. S. suits will be combined before one court to oversee the pre-trial discovery process. As of this point, there are also at least 10 lawsuits brought by individuals claiming deaths or injuries caused by the sudden acceleration of vehicles.

According to Bloomberg, the suits are most often based on the floor mat and petal issues that have caused the sudden acceleration problems in the Toyotas as reflected in the recent recalls and the Jan. 26 decision to stop U.S. production and sales of eight models. Almost 8 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled worldwide.

However, some suits are unrelated to those problems for which the cars have been recalled. Bloomberg reports that a South Carolina suit was filed on behalf of purchasers of any Toyota vehicle containing the electronic throttle control system known as the Electronic Throttle Control System with Intelligence (ETCS-i).

In addition, at least one Texas suit is based upon damages alleged to have occurred by unexpected sudden acceleration due to the ETCS-i. As reported in FindLaw's February 1 Courtside Blog post, named plaintiffs Albert Pena and Sylvia Pena are seeking class action status for their case based on accidents they allege were caused by their Toyota's ETCS-i system. 

Plaintiffs are asking for restitution for expenditures and costs, disgorgement of profits by the company, as well as punitive damages. California plaintiffs' attorney Michael Louis Kelly, who filed two proposed national cases in California, told a Bloomberg reporter, "If there's a problem other than the carpet or the pedal, you have to be talking billions of dollars."  

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