Toy­ota deal gets pre­lim­i­nary OK

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

LOS AN­GE­LES — A U.S. judge gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval Fri­day to a $1 bil­lion-plus set­tle­ment with Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. in cases in­volv­ing prob­lems of sud­den, un­in­tended ac­cel­er­a­tion by its ve­hi­cles, a plain­tiffs’ at­tor­ney said.

At­tor­ney Steve Ber­man said in a state­ment he was pleased District Judge James V. Selna gave swift ini­tial ap­proval.

Toy­ota has said the deal, an­nounced Wed­nes­day, will re­solve hun­dreds of law­suits from mo­torists who said the value of their Toy­ota ve­hi­cles plum­meted af­ter re­calls stem­ming from claims that the Ja­panese au­tomaker’s cars and trucks ac­cel­er­ated un­in­ten­tion­ally.

The pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval means cur­rent and former Toy­ota own­ers in­cluded in the set­tle­ment will re­ceive in­for­ma­tion through no­tices ex­pected to be mailed in early March.

Selna plans to hold a fair­ness hear­ing June 13 to con­sider fi­nal ap­proval.

Numer­ous cases filed since 2009 were con­sol­i­dated in Selna’s court and di­vided into two cat­e­gories: eco­nomic loss and wrong­ful death. Claims by peo­ple who seek com­pen­sa­tion for in­jury and death due to sud­den ac­cel­er­a­tion are not part of the set­tle­ment; the first trial in­volv­ing those suits is sched­uled for Fe­bru­ary.

Toy­ota has re­called more than 14 mil­lion ve­hi­cles world­wide due to ac­cel­er­a­tion prob­lems in sev­eral models and brake de­fects with the Prius hy­brid.

Peo­ple walk past a Bank of Amer­ica branch in Philadel­phia. The strength­en­ing econ­omy has helped banks. Nearly 1.7 mil­lion jobs were added in the first 11 months of 2012. More jobs means more peo­ple and busi­nesses can re­pay loans.

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