Judge dismisses lawsuit against Toyota over wiring eaten by rats

At issue is soy-based insulation surrounding engine wiring

Toyota may have made engine wiring that is irresistibly delicious to rats, but a class-action lawsuit by owners seeking redress after the rodents chewed through them is dead.

A federal judge in California last month granted motions from Toyota Motor Sales, USA to dismiss the lawsuit, which sought to get the automaker to cover the cost of repairs under warranty. The Detroit Free Press reports the suit was dismissed without leave to amend, meaning it can't be refiled.

Owners of Toyota vehicles from model years 2012 to 2016 had said rodents were eating through soy-based insulation used on engine wiring, necessitating costly repairs. Albert Heber of Indiana originally filed suit, claiming that rats had chewed through the wiring insulation on his 2012 Tundra three times, leading to repairs totaling $1,500. Honda faced a similar lawsuit by the plaintiffs that was also dismissed.

"Toyota apparently isn't willing to fix this defect or compensate customers who have paid significant amounts of money to mechanics to repair damage cause by rats," Brian Kabateck, co-lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Free Press. "People purchased these vehicles because they believed they were buying a reliable product, but Toyota refuses to acknowledge this problem even exists — or cover the damage under its warranty program."

Toyota called the claims "meritless" and has previously said that rodent damage to vehicle wiring was widespread across the industry and vehicle brands and that it knew of no evidence that proves rodents are attracted to soy-based automotive wiring insulation.

The Free Press reports there were 21 plaintiffs in the fourth amended complaint in the lawsuit, but the judge dismissed several of their claims and declined to let them amend their claims a fifth time.

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