The judge in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Toyota Motor Corp. over sudden unintended acceleration approved a joint discovery plan on Tuesday, forestalling a fight over access to evidence.
The agreement, endorsed by U.S. District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana, Calif., allows Toyota's lawyers to investigate the vehicles at issue and plaintiffs attorneys to depose executives about the automaker's electronic throttle control system. Toyota will turn over some of the documents that it gave to Congress earlier this year.
The parties reached agreement on Friday regarding the scope of documents and depositions during the first phase of discovery, scheduled to last for 100 days.
"We are pleased that the court has approved the agreement we reached with plaintiffs' counsel that establishes an equitable discovery process for this complex litigation," Toyota said in a prepared statement. "Toyota looks forward to defending this case, and we are confident that reliable scientific evidence will demonstrate the safety of our vehicles."
Last week, following news reports indicating that driver error was to blame for several complaints of sudden acceleration filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Toyota issued a written statement: "Toyota's own vehicle evaluations have confirmed that the remedies it developed for sticking accelerator pedal and potential accelerator pedal entrapment by an unsecured or incompatible floor mat are effective. We have also determined a number of other reasons for customer concerns about unintended acceleration, including cases where an increase in engine speed is normal, such as engine idle up, as well as pedal misapplication. In no case have we found electronic throttle controls to be a cause."
The MDL involves more than 200 lawsuits against Toyota following its recall of more than 8 million vehicles. Most cases involve economic losses to consumers of recalled vehicles, while others claim that the vehicles caused injuries or deaths.
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By: Amanda Bronstad