A Minneapolis law firm filed suit Thursday against Toyota Motor Corp., joining the growing number of cases seeking class-action status against the Japanese automaker for massive recalls that have left car owners questioning the safety of their vehicles or seen their values plummet.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleges that Toyota has failed to fix the "defective" electronic throttle control system found in several Toyota models and that the company sought to conceal sudden-acceleration problems by blaming floor mats or improperly designed accelerator pedals.
Attorney Stephen J. Foley said his client, Laurence K. Johnston, 75, Anoka, has not had an accident or problem with his 2010 Camry LE. But as in similar lawsuits, Foley said, his client is worried that his car is not reliable, is not safe and has lost value. No one answered the phone at Johnston's home Thursday evening.
On March 25, a panel of federal judges in San Diego will consider whether to consolidate the mushrooming cases against Toyota into a single jurisdiction. Later, a judge will decide whether all claims filed by Toyota owners nationwide can be combined in a single legal action -- known as "certifying a class" -- and whether the claims have enough merit to move toward either trial or settlement.
Toyota owners suing the company point to evidence such as Kelley Blue Book's decision this month to lower the resale value of recalled Toyotas an average of 3.5 percent, ranging from $300 less for a Corolla to $750 less for a Sequoia.
Foley said that Johnston is one of several clients represented by his firm in cases against Toyota but that Johnston's will "get the ball rolling." Others, he said, can be added later.
His firm, Foley & Mansfield, is based in Minneapolis but has eight other offices throughout the country and more than 100 lawyers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707