U.S. District Judge James Selna approved a discovery plan for the multi-district litigation involving the alleged defective Toyota vehicles. Hundreds of lawsuits against the Japanese automakers have been filed in both federal and state courts. The federal cases have been consolidated and will be heard in Judge Selna’s court in Santa Ana, California.
Over eight million Toyota vehicles have been recalled due to complaints of unintended acceleration in multiple models and faulty brake systems in the Prius hybrid. Toyota claims that faulty floor mats and sticky acceleration pedals are responsible for the problems. Some plaintiffs also claim that the electronic throttle control system is faulty in some models. Toyota denies this claim.
Phase one of the discovery plan is an exchange of information. The plaintiffs’ attorneys and Toyota will exchange documents and depositions. This cooperation will prevent a battle over access to evidence. The consolidation of the federal cases will also speed up litigation by eliminating the need for witnesses to be questioned multiple times in different courts. Phase one of the discovery plan will last for 100 days for both parties.
Information involved in the exchange include Toyota’s customer complaints, internal studies of unintended acceleration, the whereabouts of electronic data recorders in Toyota vehicles and Toyota’s advertising, sales and public relations materials. Toyota has already given over 200,000 pages of documents to federal and state authorities.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers have asked to take depositions from witnesses in 21 different categories such as Toyota’s design and testing processes. The plaintiffs’ lawyers have agreed to give Toyota’s lawyers fact sheets concerning their clients for review.
Toyota has issued the following statement concerning the discovery plan:
“We are pleased that the court has approved the agreement we reached with plaintiffs’ counsel that establishes an equitable discovery process for this complex litigation. Both sides have worked hard to sculpt a discovery schedule that will provide the plaintiffs with relevant information to evaluate the technology involved.”
The next court date is set for September 20.
Related Resource: Law.com “Federal Judge Approves Discovery Agreement in Toyota MDL“