Toyota Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuits of Unintended Acceleration

Toyota Motor Corp filed a motion to dismiss lawsuits that claim there are sudden acceleration defects in its cars. US District Judge James Selna will hear arguments today about whether he should ignore hundreds of lawsuits filed since the automaker starting recalling millions of vehicles because of acceleration problems in several models and brake defects with the Prius hybrid.

Toyota argues the plaintiffs have been unable to prove that a design defect is responsible for vehicles accelerating unexpectedly.

"Plaintiffs infer negligence and strict liability on the part of Toyota based on unsubstantiated circumstantial information," Vincent Galvin, an attorney for Toyota, said in court documents.

"Unless and until plaintiffs can provide factual allegations of a specific defect in the (electronic throttle control system) that caused the subject vehicle to experience a sudden unintended acceleration event, plaintiffs' product liability and negligence claims should be dismissed," he said.

Toyota denied the plaintiffs' attorneys claims that it had bought back cars from drivers who reported acceleration issues, had them sign confidentiality agreements and some of its own technicians found vehicles speeding up without pressing the gas pedal.

The lawsuits, consolidated and assigned to Selna, seek compensation for injury and death due to sudden acceleration, while others claim economic loss, from owners who say their cars' value diminished due to a series of recalls.

Toyota has recalled more than 10 million cars this year. The NHTSA said it had received about 3,000 reports of acceleration defects in Toyota cars in the past 10 years, including 93 deaths. On the other hand, the government has only confirmed four deaths from one accident.

Toyota has blamed a variety of factors — driver error, faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals — for the unintended acceleration.

The company had paid an undisclosed amount of money to settle a lawsuit with the relatives of four people killed in a car crash, presumably caused by unintended acceleration. The incident has drawn attention to possible safety flaws in some Toyota models.
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