Attorneys now at King & Spalding successfully represented Toyota in obtaining final approval of one of the largest automobile economic loss class action settlements, alleging issues with the Electronic Throttle Control Systems of certain Lexus and Toyota vehicles.
On July 24, 2013, the United States District Court for the Central District of California finally approved a nationwide class action settlement, effectively resolving nearly 200 economic loss class actions pending in the MDL and in state courts nationwide. Although 13 appeals were filed, they were resolved with no payment from Toyota. The class includes over 16 million vehicles or approximately 23 million class members. Class counsel valued the settlement at $1.65 billion. As co-negotiating counsel, attorneys at K&S designed the settlement, which includes five components to address the allegations in plaintiffs’ master complaint. The components are: (i) a $250 million fund for those persons or entities who sold or traded in the vehicle during a specific window; (ii) installation of a Brake Override System (“BOS”); (iii) a $250 million fund to current owners or lessees whose vehicles are not eligible for BOS; (iv) a Customer Support Program covering certain parts for up to 10 years, subject to 150,000 miles; and (v) a $30 million automobile safety and education program with university-based automobile/transportation research and education/information programs. The Court also approved a distribution process that provided 100% of damages to eligible class members who filed claims and a lesser percentage to those eligible class members who did not file claims, but who will be sent checks.
Following resolution of the class actions, attorneys at K&S successfully argued for the establishment of an Intensive Settlement Process that was ordered by the MDL and the JCCP court (“ISP”). We currently serve as lead counsel in resolving the hundreds of products liability cases pursuant to this two-step ISP process. To date this program has been very successful as hundreds of matters have been resolved through this process and the number of pending cases has been dramatically reduced. In re: Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, No. 8:10MD2151 (JVS) (FM0x) (C.D. Cal.); Toyota Motor Cases, No. 4621 (Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding, Superior Court, Complex Part, Los Angeles County, CA).