WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp. is asking a federal judge in California to dismiss a class-action lawsuit over alleged safety defects on grounds that plaintiffs have not identified an electronic defect and many of them don't claim to have experienced unintended acceleration.
The company's filing contends plaintiffs are making claims on behalf of all Toyota owners with electronic throttle control systems while asserting “only a tiny fraction of the vehicles in question” have accelerated out of control, Toyota said in a statement today.
Toyota's own technical reviews have found no evidence of any electronic defects that might lead to unintended acceleration, the statement said.
“More than a year after filing their first complaint, plaintiffs have not identified a defect and are grasping at straws to make their case,” Toyota lawyer Cari Dawson said in the statement.
An amended class-action complaint filed last week in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., cited internal company records documenting instances in which Toyota technicians or service managers re-created acceleration problems like those reported by customers.
“We believe the evidence clearly shows that Toyota recognized -- and could replicate -- sudden, unintended accelerations with their vehicles for nearly a decade,” Steve Berman, an attorney representing plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We also believe Toyota knew how to fix the problem using a brake-override system -- standard equipment with other carmakers. We are confident the case will move forward, and the jury will be the ultimate arbiter.”
The 725-page filing last week also alleges Toyota secretly repurchased from customers some vehicles it found with safety defects linked to unintended-acceleration problems.
The suit attempts to consolidate dozens of consumers and businesses claiming economic losses stemming from complaints that Toyota vehicles raced out of control.
Toyota said last week it had indeed repurchased vehicles from customers who complained of unintended acceleration but did so to conduct “further engineering analysis” on the cars.
The company said its technicians were unable to replicate those acceleration concerns.