U.S. Judge Dismisses Non-U.S. Car Buyers’ Claims Against Toyota

By | April 5, 2011

A U.S. judge said he would dismiss claims against Toyota Motor Corp. by non-U.S. car buyers who say their vehicles lost value because of manufacturing defects.

Toyota has recalled 19 million vehicles globally since 2009 when it took the first in a series of measures to fix problems with sticky accelerator pedals and potentially dangerous floormats.

Scores of lawsuits have been consolidated before a federal judge in Southern California. In February, a U.S. government probe cleared Toyota’s electronics of causing unintended acceleration.

In addition to a complaint filed by U.S. customers, Toyota was sued by so-called foreign plaintiffs who similarly claim that the company did not sufficiently address sudden unintended acceleration, leading to a drop in value.

In a tentative ruling available on Monday on the court’s website, U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled that the foreign plaintiffs had not established the required legal standing to sue in U.S. federal court.

Previously, Selna left intact the bulk of claims brought by U.S. customers.

Selna gave the foreign plaintiffs an opportunity to amend their lawsuit with fresh facts, according to Celeste Migliore, a Toyota spokeswoman.

Still, “we do not see how they overcome the fundamental problem that these claims should be brought in the plaintiffs’ home countries, not in the US,” Migliore said in an email.

Lawyers representing the foreign plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment.

The massive recalls in 2009 and 2010 rocked Toyota to its foundation and saw President Akio Toyoda come to Washington a year ago to tell U.S. lawmakers he was “deeply sorry.”

The case in U.S. District Court, Central District of California is In re: Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, 10-2151.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Matthew Lewis and Bernard Orr)

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