Hagens Berman: Toyota Agrees to Fund a Settlement of Unintended Acceleration Cases Worth up to $1.4B

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by cwerdna, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    Just saw a push alert on my iPhone about this.

    Hagens Berman: Toyota Agrees to Fund a Settlement of Unintended Acceleration Cases Worth up to $1.4 Billion - Yahoo! Finance
    (note: this is a press release)

    More coverage: Toyota settles class-action suit: WSJ - MarketWatch.
     
  2. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    So three million Toyota owners will get a mostly un-needed modification, and the lawyers will collect $200 million (according to the settlement document).
     
  3. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Wow.
    All I can say it wow.
    That's huge. That's a lot of money for Toyota to put out, especially in regards to a situation that they have previously and all along said was non-existent and not a problem.
    Now they are going to pay out between 1.2 billion and 1.4 billion in a settlement over something Toyota has said wasn't a problem and really did not exist outside of operator error and/or trapped floormats?
    They are going to install a brake override system in 3.25 million vehicles?

    That's a lot of time, effort and resources suddenly being applied to something Toyota has said was nothing and non-existent.
     
  4. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

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    Holy mackerel, Andy!
     
  5. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    If I were to assume that Toyota Management, Lawyers and PR hacks were semi-competent, I would be forced to admit that I don't understand why they caved on this. This is like paying off an extortionist , it shows extortionists that you are an easy mark.
     
  6. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    Yeah, I confirmed that $200 million value. Nuts! :( Sigh...

    To be fair, there were cases of pedal entrapment and that was suspected to be the cause of the Saylor incident (he was driving a loaner vehicle that he was unfamiliar with and had the wrong floor mats in place). There also were cases of potentially sticky accelerator pedal mechanisms on CTS pedal equipped Toyotas.

    As for electronic causes, yes, AFAIK, none were found, including after NHTSA enlisted NASA's help.

    But yes, as usual, it seems like it's the lawyers making out like bandits. :(
     
  7. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    From looking at the PDF at Toyota Economic Loss Settlement Website under Exhibit 1 (starting on page 54), it looks like this consolidates 221 lawsuits. Perhaps it was cheaper and better to just settle on this than to go thru the wasted time, distraction and costs of dealing w/all of those?

    Remember, it's a big distraction and waste of time and money to have lawyers involved, have Toyota engineers and officials deposed, have to respond to results and challenges from other people/"experts", etc.

    Toyota's in the business of engineering, manufacturing and selling cars. To have people distracted and time diverted away from their core job functions is costly too.

    I haven't read all 294 pages of the doc and have no interest in doing so.
     
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  8. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Yep, that's a good summary. Toyota fought with the NHTSA on this for years, including hiring a former regulator to negotiate with them. From all appearances the NHTSA gave Toyota favorable treatment because of this which is unethical behavior. They also have paid the largest fines for hiding information related to unintended acceleration from the NHTSA.

    There is little doubt in my mind that a brake cuttoff of acceleration would have prevented at least some of the deaths. Deaths might have also been prevented if Toyota had acted like pedal entrapment was a real issue, instead of winking that it was really all people hitting the wrong pedal. It has been a giant PR nightmare for toyota that stems from bad behavior.

    Toyota should be happy to settle and get this over with. It would have much less expensive if they had cooperated in the past. If they continue to fight it, and pretend they did nothing wrong, it likely would string out for many more years and cost even more.
     
  9. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    That averages to $1 million (in round numbers) per filed case. How much would Toyota have spent defending each case? How much would the governments involved have to spend to hear the cases? How many would Toyota win? How many do they lose and what do those cost?

    Some people will get an additional 3 year warranty on certain parts & systems. Some people will get a bit of cash.

    Some research programs will get a boost or funding.

    Some media outlets will get ad revenue.

    A jury trial is always a crapshoot. Remember, there is one jury that believes Apple owns the rights to a thin rectangle.
     
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  10. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    I know my 09 TCH had a brake software issue that was hard to duplicate. You would be slowing down from 55-60, regen would be going, then all of a sudden, stop, and you felt as if you had no brakes, and had to press harder on the pedal then BAM you had brakes. My wife kept thinking I was screwing around on her, then it happened to her.

    We got rid of the car soon after that.
     
  11. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Well, that's what I said.- "Toyota has said wasn't a problem and really did not exist outside of operator error and/or trapped floormats"

    I'm not blaming this on "lawyers". Yes, they're making money. But Toyota is paying out BILLIONS....the lawyers are only getting millions.

    What surprising to me, it that this seems to represent a near reversal of Toyota's position, as up until today Toyota's claim was that there was no reason to settle because there was no flaw or fault from their products.

    Suddenly retroactively installing an entire addition to the brake system on 3.25 Million vehicles, doesn't sound like the actions of a manufacturer that has total confidence in their existing system.

    You can blame lawyers.....but I assume Toyota also has highly paid and extremely competent lawyers working for them, and I also assume Toyota wouldn't be involved in a multi-Billion dollar operation if they didn't feel they had to be.

     
  12. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    This may give you a little insight
    Toyota to pay up to $1.4B to settle lawsuits | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com

    What is very significant is that Toyota had information in 2009, which it was required by law to disclose within 5 days. Went through a safety investigation, and did not release the information until over 2 years later. This would not sit well with Juries in wrongful death suits.

    I don't think any of the confidence is gone, what has occurred is the likelihood that continued denials might further damage the company. We could see in the information released in 2010, that some inside Toyota did not think their cars were causing any problems, but did not want to investigate. In 2010 Toyota claimed it would restructure and do better even while some in Toyota knew it had not informed the NHTSA about the RX. At some point you just have to admit to mistakes and work to fix them. Somehow customers forgive companies that do that. Shares of Toyota were up after he announcement, because it reduces one big risk over hanging the stock.

    Toyota has plenty of legal fire power. But after you have been caught 4 times delaying recalls, its very difficult to continue to claim there never was a problem.
     
  13. finman

    finman Senior Member

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    total and utter [email protected]*t. why the [email protected]#k is this even right? There's no problem people, get over it. drivers are stupid and they get rewarded? Please go back to the days of horse and buggy for pete's sake.
     
  14. El Cuajinais

    El Cuajinais Junior Member

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    I have a 2013 Prius v wagon. On Christmas day I was backing up an incline and the car was in grass (I’m in Puerto Rico, so no snow or ice). I had to get it back on the road which was about 6 inches raised from the grass. As I was maneuvering, I felt the car loose all power; it simply stopped responding to my accelerator input. This happened twice in the span of 10 seconds. I found it strange and was concerned that the car may have a glitch. Now I have a good theory of what was going on:

    From the Wikipedia “2009–2011 Toyota vehicle recalls” article:

    The brake override system, also called "brake to idle" allows the driver to override the accelerator by hitting the brakes.

    I don’t know how other drivers handle tight maneuvering on an incline, but I’ve always pressed both pedals at the same time. I do this to prevent the car from rolling downhill in the split second it takes me to move my foot from one pedal to the other. Apparently because of the brake override system,my way of tight maneuvering on an incline simply makes the accelerator pedal not respond at all, hence my awkward surprise that I felt something was wrong with my new car.

    Having said that I have run into other weird things that also feel like glitches and for which I have no explanations. I think I’ve experienced poor braking on a very uneven road (probably twice) and some weird stuff (also probably twice) with the accelerator while trying to glide with the accelerator slightly depressed. In fact on this second point, I think I may be overstressing/overusing the electrical components of my new car by fiddling so much with the accelerator to pull off glides. Does anyone know if gliding reduces the life of the electrical components?
     
  15. Sergiospl

    Sergiospl Senior Member

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    http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?p=365775
     
  16. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    The prius is different. Use the hill assist feature. Press down the brake hard, and it will hold until you are moving.

    I haven't driven brake overide in toyota's yet, but on the ones I have, your maneuver would work fine. The brake overide does not happen at very low speeds to allow you to do what you have been doing. Now if you were going 20 mph and hit the brakes and gas, then it would only apply the brake portion of input.
     
  17. El Cuajinais

    El Cuajinais Junior Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I think this quote from a 2011 Car and Driver article is relevant:

    Here is a link to the whole thing to anyone interested:
    Toyota Recall: Scandal, Media Circus, and Stupid Drivers - Editorial - Car and Driver
     
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  18. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    Yay and Nay.

    First it's a pre-tax charge. That means at this moment not one dime will be spent. As I understand the agreement the key points are...

    1. TM will install the BTO software on as many vehicles as possible if technically possible. Typically this is done from the Mother Ship to the various local dealers via electronic transmission of software. The local dealers then install the software on each vehicle separately. HUGE boon for the dealership network...TYVM Mr Toyoda.
    2. TM will extend the warranties for those vehicles that cannot accept the BTO upgrade. Net cost??? It depends.
    3. TM will make a marketing gesture to those, especially in Cali, who claimed that they were scared during the frenzy and dumped their Toyotas at a 'loss'. How much of a loss? How many people? Proof required to claim this gesture? How many will actually file such claims?
    4. Because it's a pretax charge, Uncle Sam ( you and me ) and the State of CA, will pay anywhere from 25-50% of this charge-off!!!!! Hello...
    The scum-sucking tort attorneys get $200 million <== ( That $200 MM comes from Uncle Sam ). Most of the parties to the class action suit get not one single dime.
     
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  19. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    This is the key issue. TM's contention was proven and upheld by the Feds. The markets are picking up. They buyers have returned. Let's put this issue behind us with an agreement from all involved (KEY POINT*) of '..no fault..'. Everything else is a financial equation. Nothing more.

    We move on. Next issue.

    *The scummy tort attorneys probably feel lucky to be getting anything from this fiasco after the findings from NASA and the NHTSA. "Hallelujah let's get paid and get the hell out of here, pronto."
     
  20. kbeck

    kbeck Active Member

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    Short and sweet.

    First: It's clear that this has never been a problem for the Priuses. Priuses are not conventional cars; the cars have built-in regen, which means that brakes vs. throttle are central to the operation of the car; and brake override has been part of the car's firmware/electronics since day one.

    Second: Toyota has been saying that, if there are any problems, it's in the carpets and drivers' side mats. Some of the overspeed accidents appear to be clearly attributable to this cause.. But not all.

    Third: NASA/NHTSA went over the firmware. End of that report: Nothing found, but, given the vagaries of hardware and software, it wasn't proven that nothing could go wrong. Fine. I'm a electronics hardware engineer. One does not normally run into proven "correct" microprocessors. They are rare and, to my knowledge, none are commercially viable. So much for "correct" microprocessor action in the face of assembly code.
    Similar arguments can be made for compilers; low level source code; and high level source code. Such is life.
    And this doesn't include What Happens when power surges, EMI effects, poor solder joints, and $DIETY knows what. Partially hung hardware, anyone? One-off, or semi-one-off failure modes that are hard to find and troubleshoot? Sure, hate to say this, but this kind of junk is my life.
    So, in the face of all this, how come anything can be built? Answer: Testing, testing, more testing, and more testing after that. Fuzzing algorithms. Code inspections. Hardware inspections. Careful looks at errata sheets. And so on and so on. I'll bet you that for every hour spent doing "design" in a thing like the electronics in a car, there's a thousand hours spent finding out if the design was correct.
    And, in the end, when the product is shipped, it's not that anybody in the know thinks that there aren't any bugs left: It's just the general solid wish/conviction that there's no major bugs left.
    And, when one sells millions of a product into the field, it's expected that things aren't going to work right. Things are going to go blooey. And, for that reason, engineering firms keep track of field returns, look for oddballs, and keep their minds open.

    What brings all this on? Report from the NY Times on this settlement: "But a subsequent review of that inquiry by a branch of the National Academy of Sciences found that federal regulators had lacked the expertise to monitor electronic controls in automobiles." Oops.

    Apparently, the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit specifically mentioned the electronics control as a major player.

    OK: There are people all over who claim that the Unintended Acceleration Problem (again, not in Priuses) is a product of: Idiots Who Can't Find Their nice person, Never Mind The Brake Pedal; Con Men/Women; and Floor Mats. I call that a cheap way out. And, in my opinion, the whole business stunk of electronics problems. Weird, hard to find, hard to repeat, electronics problems: Exactly the kind of problem that gets through all the tests, at which point the statistics of large numbers take over.

    OK. Maybe Toyota is doing all this because of bad publicity. Me, I think it's because of the power of the subpoena. I've heard reports that Japanese car manufacturers, and Toyota in particular, keep "black books" that regulators on this side of the ocean don't get to look at. But this is a civil trial; if there's people testifying that these things exist, and Toyota doesn't come up with them, then Presumptions of Guilt doth begin to appear.

    Nobody gives up a billion dollars if they're in the right. I think Toyota just got caught.

    And, if you do have this kind of a whacky, hard to troubleshoot problem, then a brake override is exactly what you do to keep a car from crashing. So, frankly, the whole business sounds like an admission of guilt.

    KBeck
     
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