Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

 

February 14, 2013

Pennsylvania reaches settlement with Toyota
Attorney General Kane announces consumer protection settlement over unintended acceleration

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane joined 29 other states in announcing a $29 million settlement with Toyota Motor Corporation, and its related North America entities over allegations Toyota concealed safety issues related to unintended acceleration.

Toyota agreed to pay $29 million to settle consumer protection claims and agreed to provide additional restitution and incentives to vehicle owners. As a result of the settlement, Pennsylvania will receive $900,000, and Toyota will be restricted from advertising the safety of vehicles without sound engineering data to back such claims.

"This is a very important settlement, because it will promote safety," Kane said. "It addresses our concerns that Toyota was not doing enough to warn drivers about a potentially devastating danger."

In the filed complaint along with the settlement agreement, the states allege Toyota engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it failed to promptly disclose known safety defects with accelerator pedals. The investigating State Attorneys General determined poor communication between Toyota's headquarters in Japan and Toyota officials in the United States (U.S.) was partially responsible for Toyota's failure to promptly report known safety issues.

During settlement negotiations, emphasis was placed on ensuring changes in the corporate culture and corporate chain of command to enhance Toyota's responsiveness to regulatory agencies in the U.S. As a result, Toyota has agreed to significantly change the safety culture within the company's U.S. operations. Toyota will ensure that officials and officers of its U.S. operations have timely access to information and the authority to fully participate in all decisions affecting the safe operation of Toyota vehicles advertised and sold in the U.S.  The requested culture and chain of command changes will also improve safety issue related communication between Toyota's holdings in the U.S. and Toyota's other global holdings.

The State Attorneys General believe the agreed changes in Toyota's corporate communications and safety decision-making chain of command will help the company to better respond to safety concerns and protect the public from unsafe vehicles.

In addition, the settlement provides that Toyota is:

  • Prohibited from reselling a vehicle it reacquired with alleged safety defects without informing the purchaser about the alleged defect(s) and certifying that the reacquired vehicle has been fixed;
  • Prohibited from misrepresenting the purpose of an inspection or repair when directing consumers to bring their vehicles to a dealer for inspection or repair; and
  • Required to exclude from the "Toyota Certified Used Vehicles" or "Lexus Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles" categories any vehicle voluntarily repurchased by Toyota to ensure customer satisfaction.

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office led the investigation, and the following states and U.S. territory participated in today's settlement: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The settlement is in the form of a consent petition. It is being filed in the Commonwealth Court and will require court approval.

[Editor's note: People who have questions about restitution may call the following phone numbers.  Toyota: 1-800-331-4331 Lexus: 1-800-255-3987].


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