Thursday, January 6, 2011

DBJ... Insurance companies sue Toyota

From Dayton Business Journal…
Toyota sued by insurance companies
by Ron Trujillo , DBJ Contributor
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. has been sued by seven insurance companies claiming the automaker could have avoided hundreds of crashes connected to cars that suddenly accelerated and crashed, according to media reports.

The Japanese automaker (NYSE: TM), which has operations in Troy and dozens of suppliers in the Dayton region, is dealing with dozens of lawsuits from car owners, but now must also face lawsuits from the American Automobile Insurance Co., American Hardware Mutual Insurance Co., Ameriprise Insurance Co., Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co., Motorists Mutual Insurance Co. and National Surety Corp.

The lawsuits claimed that “Toyota’s cars and trucks have a defect that cause sudden uncontrolled acceleration to speeds of up to 100 mph or more,” according to documents filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday.

The companies cite 725 crashes on the problem, which they claim could have been avoided with an override system that would prompt the car to idle if the accelerator and brake were operating at the same time. The insurance companies are seeking $230,000 from 14 crashes nationwide.

Toyota refutes the allegations, stating the acceleration problems were connected to sticky gas pedals and floor mats. The company has recalled several models, including its Toyota Prius and Sienna. The automaker recalled many vehicles to fix the gas pedals and floor mats, including some in its Lexus luxury brand, during the past several months.

Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) has also filed a lawsuit against Toyota, claiming its owed $3 million connected to 270 crashes. And Toyota recently paid $10 million in a lawsuit connected to the deaths of four people near San Diego, including former California Highway patrol officer Mark Saylor.

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