The Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, announced that Toyota will pay $16 million dollars in settlement for concealing the facts during a recent recall in violation of California Consumer Protection Laws. In 2010, Rackauckas filed a lawsuit against Toyota for fraudulent business practices and sought $2,500 for each violation. Subsequently, Rackauckas retained the Orange County law firm Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, to litigate the matter on a contingency basis. Many speculate that this may be the first time a County District Attorney has filed a civil suit against an automaker.
In the 2010 lawsuit filed against Toyota, Rackauckas alleged that:
- Toyota knowingly sold defective vehicles that accelerate suddenly;
- These defective vehicles were sold to Californians over last several years before the recall;
- Toyota knew about the issue of unintended sudden acceleration caused by the floor mat and the “sticky” gas paddle, but failed to disclose;
- Toyota made a business decision to sell or lease defective vehicles in California instead of recalling them;
- Toyota took affirmative steps to hide defects in the cars they sold; and
- California consumers did not know about the defects, and they were harmed by Toyota’s action, as the value of their vehicles is significantly reduced because of the defect.
Now, three years after Rackauckas filed the lawsuit, it has been settled for a total of $16 million. Distribution of the settlement will be as follows: $8 million will be distributed to the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership; $4 million will fund the Orange County DA’s effort to fight economic crimes; and the remaining $4 million will go toward paying the court costs and fees of the outside counsel retained by Rackauckas to handle this litigation.