08172017Headline:

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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Toyota Sudden Acceleration: Bellwether Cases Moving Forward

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The National Law Journal reported that Toyota lost its bid to dismiss the first Toyota sudden acceleration bellwether case set for trial, though a subsequent article suggested that case may delayed over arguments as to whether the dealership named in the lawsuit would remain a party. Despite the potential delay, US District Judge James Selna, overseeing nearly 300 sudden acceleration lawsuits, "refused to waiver from his insistence that bellwether trials begin in 2013."

The latest skirmish stemmed from Toyota’s argument that the sudden acceleration lawsuit brought by the family Paul Van Alfen should be heard by the state court of Utah because a federal claim under the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Warranty Act requires damages to exceed $50,000. The Van Alfen vehicle sold brand new for only $21,000 and had more than 45,000 miles on it at the time of the crash.

However, Judge Selna ruled that it was unclear whether the Consumer Warranty Act excluded punitive damages from the calculation and, therefore, he refused to grant Toyota’s motion to dismiss.

Toyota then insisted the Van Alfen plaintiffs dismiss the dealership from the case before moving forward. Attorneys for the plaintiffs refused, suggesting that if the dealership were dropped from the case, Toyota would blame the "empty chair". Attorneys also suggested there was evidence that the dealership ignored warnings to fix the Toyota vehicle during numerous times it was serviced at the dealership prior to the crash.

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(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison