Toyota is now facing its first class-action lawsuit surrounding faulty brakes on the 2010 Prius.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles last week, seeks unspecified monetary damages as well as a court order requiring Toyota to fix the brakes, which have a tendency to be unresponsive for short intervals when the vehicle is negotiating bumpy terrain. Toyota has said that this is due to a computer glitch, but does not yet know how to fix it.
This class action suit will no doubt be one of many to be leveled against Toyota in the wake of its multi-million vehicle recall for faulty accelerators. As 25-year corporate defense lawyer Edwin Baum said in a recent interview, Toyota’s current PR and legal problems are on par with those of Tylenol after the tampering fiasco of 1982, and Ford after the Pinto fuel tank scandal of 1978.
EB: They are being sued and they will be sued. I think that within six moths you’ll see a large number of overlapping putative class actions filed in many different states. You’ll see clusters of actions…[Toyota is] going to be hurt. They’re going to be damaged. But by and large, they’ve achieved their position through hard work producing quality vehicles and producing a strong brand. This will hurt them, but I don’t think it will destroy them. –The National Law Journal
Strong brand or not, Toyota needs to be more responsive and responsible when it discovers vehicle problems or defects that could result in consumer injuries or even deaths. It’s known about problems in the 2010 Prius braking system since last summer, but didn’t notify consumers about it until now.