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Maryland Public Pension Fund to be Lead Plaintiff in Toyota Class Action

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In the aftermath of its recent recalls of more than 8 million vehicles, Toyota now faces over 300 federal and state lawsuits, including suits over injury and death caused by uncontrollable acceleration, and class actions over economic losses.

Now, the state of Maryland will also get to play a large role in Toyota’s lawsuit future, as the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against the car company. The state’s public pension fund, which had invested in both Toyota’s American depository shares and its common stock, is claiming by far the largest financial loss of any plaintiff—a total of $18 billion—due to Toyota’s recalls.

The system administers retirement and pension benefits for more than 400,000 retirees, beneficiaries and current state employees…said Campbell Killefer, deputy chief of the civil litigation division in the Maryland attorney general’s office.

"The judge found that we were the best fund to operate as the lead plaintiff based on the fact that we had purchased in both those markets," Killefer said. "In the grand scheme of things, the loss is not a material hit to the system, but it’s still a large amount of money and worth fighting over."

Losses being claimed by the Maryland fund are a fraction of the fund’s $31 billion under management. The system covers teachers, law enforcement personnel, legislators, judges and local government employees and firefighters.

"We would not want any state employees to be concerned about their pensions," Killefer said. "We the state are not in this to earn large legal fees. We are in it to achieve the public good." – The Baltimore Sun

If only Toyota were out to achieve the public good as well. Since the recalls, a wealth of evidence has emerged to suggest that Toyota knew about problems with unintended acceleration and steering years ahead of any recalls, and deliberately hid them from the American public while allowing millions of consumers to purchase and drive knowingly faulty vehicles. Here’s hoping these lawsuits teach Toyota a lesson and have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the company’s safety and consumer protection policies.