Nearly 90 class-action lawsuits have reportedly been filed against Toyota; they could cost the Japanese automaker at least $3 billion. According to news sources, the number of Toyota owners claiming economic damages because of recalls over sudden unintended acceleration could reach six million. These class-action lawsuits “are more scary for Toyota than the cases where people actually got injured,” University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Tom Baker was quoted as saying. “A super-big injury case would be $20 million. But you could have millions of individual car owners who could (each) be owed $1,000. If I were Toyota, I’d be more worried about those cases.”
Some 150 plaintiffs’ lawyers reportedly met in Chicago recently to discuss sharing experts and legal strategies in the litigation and apparently broke into camps based on which jurisdiction they believe should hear the multidistrict litigation and which judge should decide the cases. The Central District of California in Los Angeles, near the headquarters of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., is under consideration and is purportedly where Toyota’s lawyers want all the cases to be transferred. Another possibility is the district in Kentucky where Toyota operates its largest manufacturing plant outside Japan. Other possibilities include district courts in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has apparently set a March 25, 2010, hearing in the Toyota litigation. “This is going to be a feeding frenzy,” a products liability attorney was quoted as saying. See The Associated Press, March 9, 2010; Law.com, March 11, 2010.