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Toyota acceleration settlement: Judge finalizing $1.6 billion deal

A Toyota logo is seen in this undated file photo.
July 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A settlement in a major class-action lawsuit against Toyota is expected to be approved by a Southern California judge.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Selna said he was approving the $1.6 billion settlement that was announced in December over runaway vehicle problems. That would make it the largest settlement in U.S. history involving automobile defects.

The settlement covers Toyota Motor Corporation customers whose cars lost value as a result of publicity over the sudden-acceleration issues with the company's vehicles.

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed against since 2009 after numerous complaints were made that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths.

More than 14 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide by Toyota due to acceleration problems in several models. The Prius hybrid has seen recalls due to brake defects.

Toyota has denied the allegations, blaming driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.

Steve Berman, an attorney representing Toyota owners, says those who sold their vehicles at a loss can receive anywhere from $125 to $10,000.

The cases were consolidated in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana and divided into two categories: economic loss and wrongful death. The first trial involving a wrongful death is scheduled to begin in a Los Angeles courtroom next week.

As part of the economic loss settlement, Toyota will offer cash payments from a pool of about $250 million to eligible customers who sold vehicles or turned in leased vehicles between September 2009 and December 2010.

The company also will launch a $250 million program for 16 million current owners to provide supplemental warranty coverage for certain vehicle components, and it will retrofit about 3.2 million vehicles with a brake override system. An override system is designed to ensure a car will stop when the brakes are applied, even if the accelerator pedal is depressed.

Claims will be taken until July 29.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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