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Judge's ruling paves way for owners to sue Toyota over economic losses

Posted May 18th 2011 3:02PM

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If Toyota was hoping to end its ongoing unintended acceleration-related legal issues, the latest bit of courtroom news in the U.S. will make the automaker quite unhappy. U.S. District Judge James Selna has ruled that vehicle owners can sue Toyota over economic losses. Some Toyota owners claim the automaker is responsible for diminished resale value of vehicles wearing the Toyota badge.

"A vehicle with a defect is worth less than one without a defect," said Selna.

Toyota, however, has stated that it remains confident it will emerge from the courtroom victorious. Selna's ruling moves the burden of proof over to the plaintiff's lawyers, and Toyota believes that no such proof of wrong-doing on its part exists. Lawyers for the plaintiffs will be tasked with proving that the automaker was aware of a defect and chose to ignore it.

One particular issue from Toyota's point of view, with regards to James Selna's ruling, is that the judge has applied a California law to the case that may make it easier for plaintiffs to recover damages. Toyota argues that vehicle owners from all over the country are involved in the lawsuit, and federal laws should take precedence. Either way, it appears that Toyota's legal drama is going to continue for quite some time.

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