Toyota agrees to settlement in recall case

Automaker to pay out more than $1 billion

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LOS ANGELES — Toyota Motor Co. announced an agreement on Wednesday worth more than $1 billion to settle a lawsuit involving unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles.

The company said the deal will resolve hundreds of lawsuits from Toyota owners who said the value of their cars and trucks plummeted after recalls stemming from claims that Toyota vehicles accelerated unintentionally.

As part of the economic loss settlement, Toyota will offer cash payments from a pool of about $250 million to eligible customers who sold vehicles or turned in leased vehicles between September 2009 and December 2010.

The company also will launch a $250 million program for 16 million current owners to provide supplemental warranty coverage for certain vehicle components, and it will retrofit about 3.2 million vehicles with a brake override system, which ensures a car will stop when the brakes are applied, even if the accelerator is depressed.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyo­ta since 2009, when the Ja­pa­nese automaker started receiving numerous complaints that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths. Toyota recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide over the problem.

Toyota has maintained that no electronic flaws were to blame. Both the National High­way Traffic Safety Admin­is­tration and NASA were unable to find any defects in Toyota’s source code that could cause problems.

The total value of the settlement is estimated to be between $1.2 and $1.4 billion, according to Steve Berman, a lawyer representing Toyota owners. He said the settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving automobile defects.

The deal must still be approved by a judge. Claims by people who seek compensation for injury and death due to sudden acceleration are not part of the settlement; the first trial involving those suits is scheduled for February.


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