Toyota is still making the kind of news they'd prefer to be done with. The company has agreed to pay $29 million to 29 states and American Samoa to settle allegations by those state's attorney generals that Toyota did not reveal prior knowledge of safety defects in accelerator pedals in a timely manner.
The suits were filed in 2010 after Toyota recalled 14 million vehicles around the world for accelerating without warning. The automaker attributed this to sticky gas pedals, faulty floor mats and driver error. Investigations by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and engineers at NASA concurred that electronic problems were not the cause.
Here are some of the highlights of the settlement:
- Toyota will notify used vehicles buyers about defects and will not call those vehicles "Toyota certified."
- They are prohibited from advertising vehicle safety claims without "sound" engineering and scientific data to back up the claims.
- The company will expand its rapid response teams, which are responsible for responding to safety issues.
- Vehicle owners will be reimbursed for expenses incurred during the recall period (estimated to be $5 million).
Last December, Toyota agreed to pay over $1 billion to settle economic claims by customers in federal multidistrict litigation. This includes a record fine of $17.4 million to be paid to the federal government.
Both Washington and Oregon were among the 29 states included in the settlement. Washington is receiving $1.5 million, which among other things will be used for restitution, attorneys' fees and other costs related to the investigation and litigation. Oregon will receive $600,000.