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Colson Hicks Eidson Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Toyota

March 4, 2010
Colson Hicks Eidson

Complaint Alleges Automaker Equipped Cars Knowingly with Defective Electronic Throttle Systems

MIAMI (March 4, 2010) – Leading Coral Gables-based trial law firm Colson Hicks Eidson filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on March 3rd on behalf of Plaintiffs: Sharlene Cohen-Goldberg, Tiffany Jones, Thelma Reid and other Florida and national class members and similarly situated Plaintiffs against Defendants: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc; Toyota Motor Corporation and their affiliates, the Firm announced today. The complaint alleges the Defendants knowingly designed, manufactured, distributed and sold certain automobiles equipped with the Electronic Throttle Control System with Intelligence (ETCS-i) that is defective and can cause sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) of the vehicle engine.

Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson, founding partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, will serve as lead counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs.  A nationally recognized authority on automotive recalls, Eidson, at age 29, and his partners, tried and won the first case alleging that the Ford Pinto fuel system was defective. He was also involved in the Chrysler Minivan latch case that led to the recall of 4 million vehicles, and was national co-lead counsel in the Ford Explorer/ Firestone tire litigation.

According to the suit, the Plaintiffs allege that Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with the ETCS-i are defective and unsafe and are susceptible to incidents of sudden unintended acceleration rendering such vehicles uncontrollable. The Plaintiffs further allege that the Defendants failed to incorporate important failsafe measures critical to assisting a driver in maintaining control of the vehicle during a sudden unintended acceleration event. One such failsafe measure is a computer algorithm that will direct the ETCS-i to automatically reduce the engine to idle when the brakes are being applied while the throttle is in an unintended open position. This measure, also referred to as “brake-to-idle” algorithm or simply “brake over-ride”, has been incorporated by other automobile manufacturers in vehicles designed with electronic throttle control for years. According to the suit, brake override will eliminate sudden unintended acceleration problems regardless of the cause and many other manufacturers already incorporate this feature in their vehicles. Toyota has announced that it will incorporate brake override in its vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year.

Since the introduction of ETCS-i, more than 2,600 complaints of sudden unintended acceleration have been made to the Toyota Defendants and government agencies. According to the suit, ETCS-i has resulted in automobile accidents causing more than 34 deaths and hundreds of accidents and injuries over the past decade and these numbers are likely underreported. More than six million vehicles have been recalled by Toyota.

“Toyota was fully aware of the recurring problem of sudden unintended acceleration in their Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with ETCS-i and the serious risk of injury or death that it presented to drivers of these vehicles and they continued to manufacture and sell the cars,” says Eidson. “This action seeks to hold Toyota accountable for damages sustained by Toyota owners and to force Toyota to take appropriate steps to eliminate sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles.”