29 state attorneys general announce consumer protection settlement over unintended acceleration
(DES MOINES, Iowa) The Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay the State of Iowa more than a half-million dollars in a $29 million settlement with Attorney General Tom Miller and 28 other states over allegations that Toyota concealed safety issues related to unintended acceleration.
Toyota and its related North America entities agreed to settle consumer protection claims and provide additional restitution and incentives to vehicle owners to promote compliance with unintended acceleration safety recalls. As a result of the settlement, through a consent judgment, Toyota will pay the state $580,845 and agrees to restrict advertising the safety of its vehicles without sound engineering data to back such safety claims.
“Toyota fell short of its obligation to let the public know about problems with its accelerator pedals,” said Miller. “As part of this settlement, Toyota must retool its safety-related communications internally and with the public, and we expect that the company will also make fundamental changes to its corporate culture as it relates to safety.”
In a petition filed today in Polk County District Court, Miller alleged that Toyota engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it failed to timely disclose known safety defects with accelerator pedals.
State attorneys general investigating the case determined that poor communication between Toyota’s nerve center in Japan and Toyota’s United States holdings were partially responsible for the company’s failure to timely report known safety issues. As a result, Toyota has agreed to significantly change the safety culture within the company’s U.S. operations.
Toyota agrees to ensure that its U.S. operations have timely access to information and the authority to fully participate in all decisions affecting the safe operation of Toyota vehicles advertised and sold in the U.S. The chain of command and corporate culture changes are expected to improve safety issue-related communications between Toyota’s U.S. and global holdings, said Miller.
During settlement negotiations, according to Miller, state attorneys general emphasized ensuring changes in Toyota’s corporate culture and corporate chain of command to enhance the company’s responsiveness to U.S. regulatory agencies.
“We expect that Toyota’s changes to its safety decision making process and corporate communications will improve the company’s responsiveness to safety concerns, which we think is really important,” said Miller.
The settlement also:
- Prohibits Toyota from misrepresenting the purpose of an inspection or repair when directing consumers to bring their vehicles to a dealer for inspection or repair;
- Prohibits Toyota from reselling a vehicle it reacquired with alleged safety defects without informing the purchaser about the alleged defect(s) and certifying that the reacquired vehicle has been fixed; and
- Requires Toyota to exclude from the “Toyota Certified Used Vehicles” or “Lexus Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles” categories any vehicle acquired through lemon law proceedings or voluntarily repurchased by Toyota to ensure customer satisfaction.
In 2009, Toyota recalled more than 37,000 Iowa-registered vehicles for floor mat-related issues. Consumers can determine whether their vehicle is subject to any current safety recall at www.Toyota.com/recall.
Separately, in December 2012 Toyota announced a $1.1 billion “Toyota Economic Loss” settlement to resolve private lawsuits alleging that certain Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with electronic throttle control systems (“ETCS”) are defective and can experience acceleration that is unintended by the driver. In that case Toyota denied that it violated any law, denied wrongdoing, and denied any defects in its ETCS. Consumers can find information on the private settlement, and whether they may be part of the settlement, at https://toyotaelsettlement.com/ or call 877-283-0507.
The following state attorneys general joined Miller in today’s settlement: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
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