A federal judge tentatively ruled on Friday, November 19, 2010, that he would leave intact the bulk of a consumer class-action case against Toyota seeking damages for economic losses stemming from complaints about cars that raced out of control. U.S District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana, California, held that Toyota car owners stand to recover any compensation awarded under the lawsuit for lost resale value regardless of whether they personally experienced sudden unintended acceleration. The ruling means the prospective consumer class will approximate 40 million individuals, although no class has been certified yet.
The tentative ruling emerged from a hearing on Toyota’s motions to dismiss the lion’s share of the economic loss claims. The suit maintains that a sharp rise in the number of unintended acceleration complaints following the introduction of the electronic throttle controls “put Toyota on notice” that a defect existed in the system. The claims for economic losses are based on the premise that Toyota customers overpaid for their vehicles, made lease payments that were too high or sold their vehicles at a loss once the problems with unintended acceleration came to light.