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"When we talked with Toyota owners, they all voiced the same desire – to drive the car back to the lot, hand them the keys and pick up a check." So says Steve Berman, a lawyer from Seattle who has filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota on behalf of "dozens" of owners in Arizona and Washington. Fat chance, right?

Not so fast, answers Berman. "Fortunately, we think the law allows for exactly that solution, and we are asking the courts to make it happen." While this isn't nearly the first class action suit filed against Toyota since revelations of the car's possible tendency to accelerate out of control, it is the first such case that seeks a full refund for each car sold.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, most such suits are only seeking to get back around $500 per owner, or roughly the amount Kelley Blue Book believes the average Toyota has lost in resale value due to allegations the vehicles are unsafe. That would equal more than $3 billion. Berman's suit, though, could add up to many times that amount if successful.

Even if Berman's would-be class action suit fails, Toyota may be in for more rough times courtesy of the Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium (ATAC), which is adding racketeering claims to a number of its lawsuits. Northeastern University law professor Tim Howard, who is coordinating the ATAC, says, "It's become increasingly apparent that Toyota profits were not built on quality products, but on a willful pattern of deception, fraud and racketeering."

In any case, a group of federal judges in San Diego will meet in one week to determine whether the 110 or so class action suits against Toyota should be combined into one single case and whether that case should proceed to trial. We'll be watching.

[Source: San Francisco Chronicle via Inside Line | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lawyers? About 30 years I got sucked into such a suit. An attorney who lived in our subdivision sent letter to everyone stating that our assessment on our homes was greatly inflated. And, that for just a $100 per household he would bring suit that would lowering out taxes. He not only promised us that we would get back at least double of what he was charging us, but it would keep on paying year after year. My $100 vanished quicker than a speeding bullet along with everyone else’s hard earned money.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Awe, all is well in the universe as the recall beacon moves swiftly off Honda and back to Toyota.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ATAC = Sounds like "ATTACK!" – was this intended irony or just wishful thinking...lol
      • 5 Years Ago
      It was just a matter of time before the shysters started banging down the door. Berman and an odious assortment of fellow suits will grandstand this to the hilt under the guise of helping the helpless. In doing so, these schmucks will run up an incredible number of billable hours in their ceaseless quest for personal riches and shingle aggrandizement.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is where the real sanctions against Toyota will roll in. The max civil penalty of $16 million is looking like a warm tropical breeze.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In the end it was not VW, Hyundai or a resurgent GM and Ford who brought down mighty Toyota. It was your average trial lawyer looking out for blood.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Consumers who feel slighted can make their statement with their next purchase of a non-Toyota product.
      People forget that there are ways for justice to be served outside of the courtroom.
      Bad press, increased incentives and depressed values of used cars will contribute to erode the recalled model's residuals. The production volumes of new cars will go down and prices will go up.
      Tied to this is the fact that Toyota caters to a large group of economical buyers who are loyal to the brand because of the overwhelming financial benefit of having a low operating cost / easy-to-finance or lease vehicle. The shift in the Toyota value proposition will make even these core customers have to re-think the competition.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's guys like these who give lawyers a bad rep.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is exactly what happened with tobacco lawsuits, when a massive horde of lawyers asked to be attached to the class-action lawsuit, which eventually watered down any money that reached the states.

        Watch folks, as lawyers of the ATAC gets their own version of a stimulus check!
        • 5 Years Ago
        These guys should be nice and only take 10% - practically for FREE!
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Attorneys are the world's biggest crooks. "

        not fair to tar them all with that brush; it's only a small subset of them that deserve the rep. And by that I'm referring to the personal injury lawyers like the ones who advertise relentlessly on local TV.

        besides, as my old boss used to say, "everyone hates lawyers until they need one."
        • 5 Years Ago
        agreed, Attourneys make millions, the consumers get a mere pittance....last one i was involved in I got a payout....it was 30 cents....pretty hilarious, but frankly THIS was writing on the wall....attourneys such as THIS guy are rubbing their hands in glee....YIPPEE, someone with deep pockets finally....
        • 5 Years Ago
        ....and Toyota that makes America's highways unsafe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So let me get this straight anytime a automaker has a recall we should in turn recieve a check from them because it effected resale value? Interesting but sadly unrealistic since as the saying goes "Your car lose's half its value as soon as you drive it off the lot". That and resale value does it not have to do with demand on said cars?

      I hope the judges toss this out and make the lawyer pay for court fee's for simply hearing this silly case.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, I could either get my car fixed and go on with my life...
      Or get a full refund for it and give 1/2 the money to this lawyer?

      hmmmmmmmmm.......

      What would/should I do?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Fix and go on with your life. Going the Lawyer route will kill your bank, permanently.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hi, I did buy a TOYOT COROLLA 2010 in mid january, and by that time the TOYOTA dealer new about the problems of the car. How can I add my self to the CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT if I live in NC?
        • 5 Years Ago
        All i read in this comment was; HOW CAN I GET A PIECE OF THIS PIE??

        Sad thing is, people who take part of this will end up loosing money, because the lawyers will take 50% of your "winnings" So you'll end up with less money, and no car.

        Have fun walkin' around.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you can add yourself to the list by going to www.i-am-an-idiot.com
        • 5 Years Ago
        You have to drive your TOYAY COROLLA 2010 to Japan to be added to the CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The words, "due dilligence" comes to mind.

        It's one thing for a dealer or sales rep to lie. But perhaps they omitted this. Or perhaps they genuinely didn't know? I was at Acura dealer a couple months ago and the sales people didn't know anything about the ZDX.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why didn't you do your research before buying the car? The problem stemmed from way before January.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You folks down there really know how to mess things up!
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