Toyota Wins Dismissal of Prius Brakes Class-Action Claims

Toyota Motor Corp. won a judge’s ruling blocking a class-action lawsuit by owners of Prius and Lexus models who sued over a 2010 recall to install a software update that fixed a concern with the cars’ anti-lock braking system.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney in Santa Ana, California, yesterday denied a request by four car owners to represent other owners of a 2010 Prius or a 2010 Lexus HS 250h in California, saying that three of the four plaintiffs as well as the substantial majority of the purported class never suffered any injury from the alleged defect.

The judge also granted Toyota’s request to throw out the claims of one of the four named plaintiffs, saying that he had not suffered any injury as the result of his anti-lock braking system “unreasonably extending the time and distance required to stop the vehicle” and that he had no problems with his Prius after the software update.

“After nearly three years of litigating this matter, we are pleased the court agrees that that no class exists and that plaintiffs are not entitled to any classwide relief in light of Toyota’s swift and effective market action to address its customers’ concerns,” Celeste Migliore, a spokeswoman for Torrance, California-based Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in an e-mailed statement.

Carney said in a separate order that he had “seriously doubt” that two of the other three named plaintiffs could prevail on their claims because, he said, they suffered no injury. The judge said lawyers for the fourth named plaintiff, who blames a car accident on his Prius’s brakes, should file a proposed trial date.

Karin Fisch, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately return a call to her office after regular business hours yesterday seeking comment on the rulings.

The case is In re Toyota Motor Corp. Hybrid Brake Marketing, Sales, Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 10-02172, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana.)

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