The unintended acceleration lawsuits which first received national attention after a 2009 fatal crash in Southern California are still not completely behind Toyota, which has been dealing with dozens of cases from coast-to-coast from individual plaintiffs and class action suits. The latest development is a report from the Wall Street Journal saying Toyota is close to settling with federal prosecutors over allegations of false disclosures to federal regulators.
This case differs from other cases related to the unintended acceleration incidents in that the settlement would be directly with federal prosecutors, rather than with individual plaintiffs or class-action suits from owners. The company has been dogged by officials from various government agencies for issues related to the unintended acceleration cases, including a $66.2 million fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not reporting safety defects in a timely manner.
Toyota reached a $1.1 billion settlement with owners in 2012, but lost a wrongful death case in Oklahoma in October 2013. Neither Toyota nor the Justice Department are discussing specifics of the settlement, but it’s believed that it will be structured as a criminal deferred prosecution agreement, in which Toyota will be on probation for a certain number of years, and will need to fulfill terms of the agreement over that time to avoid criminal prosecution.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)