Orange County, CA, D.A. Plans Civil Lawsuit against Toyota
According to the Orange County, CA District Attorney their lawsuit against Toyota is based on this
Timeline of Key Events
Defendants ignored, omitted, obfuscated, and misrepresented the evidence that was amassing for many years, from a variety of sources, which established there was a serious safety defect in their vehicles, including an alarming increase in the number of complaints, injuries, and deaths it knew or should have known were likely caused by the Defects.
In the late 1990s,
Toyota began to replace its mechanical throttle linkage with a
computer-controlled accelerator system or fly-by-wire system. In 2000, Toyota discontinued the
mechanical linkage in throttle systems and changed completely to a computer-controlled
In 2003, Toyota sold 6,780,000 vehicles and overtook Ford Motor Company in
annual sales to become second in the United States behind only General Motors.
In February 2003, NHTSA conducted it’s first of many investigations regarding
speed control problems in Toyota vehicles. The first two involved the Camry and Solara models.
In April 2003, Toyota dealt internally with an “unwanted acceleration” incident
during production testing of the Sienna model. Toyota blamed a “faulty trim panel clip,” deemed it
an isolated incident, and did not report it to NHTSA until 5 years later in response to a blanket
information request by the agency.
In July 2003, NHTSA opened the first probe of sudden acceleration complaints in
Lexus sedans at the request of an owner.
In March 2004, NHTSA opened a wider probe into Lexus sedans after another
complaint regarding sudden acceleration. NHTSA notified Toyota that it was opening an
investigation of unwanted acceleration and vehicle surge in 2002-2003 Camry and Solara models.
Toyota worked closely with NHTSA and succeeded in narrowing the investigation to 11 incidents
involving 5 crashes. This investigation was closed after four months without the discovery of any
In July 2004, the NHTSA closed its investigation of the Lexus sudden acceleration
complaints without finding a defect. Citing a lack of resources, the NHTSA turned down two more
requests from consumers to investigate the problem.
In 2005, the auto part supplier CTS began making pedal assemblies for Toyota.
In August 2005, the NHTSA conducted an evaluation of the Camry after reports of
some “inappropriate and uncontrollable vehicle accelerations.”
In November 2005, Toyota writes the NHTSA and states that a dealership-led
review of 59 owner claims regarding their Toyota found “no evidence of a system or component
failure” and stated that the “vehicles operated as designed.”
In 2006, Toyota passed General Motors as the number one brand of cars sold in the
The United States with 8,800,000 vehicles sold.
In January 2006, NHTSA opened a second investigation of Toyota Camry models
and received questionnaires from Camry owners, who reported hundreds of problems with
acceleration and braking. After communicating with Toyota, NHTSA closed the investigation
without finding a defect and stated the claims were of “ambiguous significance.”
In August 2006, the NHTSA continued to receive more complaints about
accelerator problems with the 2002-2006 Camry models.
In September 2006, the NHTSA opened a third investigation into reported “engine
surging” incidents with Toyota vehicles. Toyota represented to the NHTSA that there was no
abnormality in the throttle control system and blamed water damage. The NHTSA closed this
investigation without finding a defect, citing “the need to best allocate limited administrative
In March 2007, the NHTSA launched a probe into the floor mats of Lexus models.
Toyota responded by claiming the “issue is not a safety concern.” The NHTSA also preliminarily
reviewed the 2007 Lexus ES for unwanted acceleration due to floor mat interference, but closed the
investigation seven months later.
In August 2007, the NHTSA upgraded its investigation to “engineering analysis,”
which means the agency would test Toyota vehicles rather than merely review complaints.
In September 2007, Toyota recalled 55,000 Camry and Lexus models under
pressure from the NHTSA due to suspected floor mats that purportedly interfered with the
In January 2008, the NHTSA launched a probe into a sudden acceleration of the
Tacoma pickups after receiving notice of potentially 478 incidents with 2004-2008 models. In
response, Toyota told the NHTSA they could not find enough evidence to support allegations and
that an investigation was not warranted.
In August 2008, the NHTSA closed its investigation of the Tacoma without finding
a defect despite hundreds of complaints. This was the eighth investigation of Toyota vehicles since
2003. As of that time, there were over 2,600 complaints made regarding “runaway” Toyota
In April 2009, the NHTSA received another petition for an investigation of throttle control
problems in Toyota vehicles unrelated to floor mat issues.
On August 28, 2009, , California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and his family
were killed when his Toyota vehicle (Lexus ES350) accelerated out of control over 100 mph. A
911 call by a passenger said the car had “no brakes.”
In September 2009, the NHTSA told Toyota to expect wider recalls of floor mats.
Toyota warned consumers to remove floor mats because of the supposed potential to jam the
accelerator, purportedly causing sudden acceleration.
In October 2009:
* Toyota received reports in the United States and Canada that pedals were
sticking in certain models.
* Toyota then issued a floor mat recall on 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus
vehicles, advising consumers to remove floor mats and place them in the
trunk and directing dealers to use zip ties to secure floor mats to avoid gas
* Akio Toyoda, president of the Japanese parent corporation, issued a public
apology to the Saylor family and every customer affected by the recall,
admitting: “Customers bought our cars because they thought they were the
safest but now we have given them cause for grave concern. I can’t begin to
express my remorse.”
* The Los Angeles Times published the first of many stories concerning claims
of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, including nine NHTSA
investigations that included five deaths and hundreds of complaints filed with
the federal government. Toyota then sent letters to consumers regarding the
unintended acceleration issue, claiming “no defect exists.”
In November 2009:
* Toyota expanded the floor mat recall by over a million vehicles.
* The NHTSA publicly rebuked Toyota, calling Toyotas press release
“inaccurate” and “misleading,” noting that the floor mat recall was an
“interim” measure and that it “does not correct the underlying defect.”
* Toyota then publicly apologized for its inaccurate press release.
* Toyota issued another press release denying media reports that a problem
existed with the electronic throttle system.
* The Los Angeles Times wrote another article stating that Toyota ignored
over 1,200 complaints of sudden acceleration over the past eight years.
* Toyota announced a preliminary fix for the “floor mat problem” by cutting
off part of the gas pedal and expanded the total number of Toyota vehicles
subject to recall to 4.2 million.
* Toyota instructed dealers to remove the gas pedal and shorten it so it would
not interfere with floor mats.
In December 2009:
* The NHTSA opened an investigation into whether the electronic control
modules in Corolla and Matrix models caused them to stall without warning.
* The NHTSA opened an investigation into the 2003 Sequoia SUV model for
problems with the computerized vehicle stability control system.
In January 2010:
* Toyota announced a brake override software “fix” would be applied to its
vehicles globally by 2011.
* Toyota told the NHTSA it may have “an issue” with sticking accelerator
* The NHTSA told Toyota it must conduct a recall.
* Toyota issued a recall for sticking accelerator pedals affecting 2.3 million
* Toyota then expanded the pedal recall to include another 1.1 million vehicles.
* United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Chicago radio
station that the government had asked Toyota to stop selling recalled
* Toyota told the NHTSA it had a fix for the sticky-pedal problem, as well as a
permanent fix for the floor mat problem.
* On January 26, 2010, after ever-increasing adverse publicity, Toyota stopped
selling it’s recalled models, stating that preventing the sale of the vehicles was
“necessary until a remedy is finalized.”
In February 2010:
* Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified before a Congressional panel
cautioning drivers to seek repairs for sticking accelerators.
* Kelly Blue Book said affected Toyota models were devalued as much as 5%.
* Edmunds stated the average devaluation was between 4%-8%.
* Toyota admitted to a brake software problem in 2010 Prius Hybrids.
* Toyota recalled the 2010 Prius, Lexus HS 250h and Camry Hybrids due to
faulty brakes (437,000 vehicles worldwide).
On March 4, 2010, , United States Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak
wrote in a letter to Toyota: “We do not understand the basis for Toyotas repeated assertions that it
is ˜confident there are no electronic defects contributing to incidents of sudden unintended
acceleration . . . There’s a Glitch . . . You really don’t know when it’s going to occur and that’s
the uncertainty which should cause safety concerns.”
On March 5, 2010, new data released showed that more than 60 drivers have
complained of sudden acceleration incidents despite the fact that their cars were repaired by Toyota
Motor Corp. in the current recalls. The latest figure, released by NHTSA, significantly increased
the total number of complaints involving repaired vehicles. The new complaints allege several
accidents and at least three injuries resulting from runaway unintended acceleration despite the
vehicle modifications at Toyota dealerships designed to resolve the issue.
As of March 6, 2010, the number of deaths attributed to possible unintended
acceleration in Toyota cars had risen to 58. The Detroit Free Press reported that the number of
complaints to U.S. auto safety regulators related to sudden acceleration also had grown to 3,300.
As of March 2010, Toyota reported more than $200 billion in worldwide sales for
the fiscal year that ended in March 2010.
Listen as Simon Constable from Dow Jones talk to Lou Ann Hammond about Toyota’s woes