Friday, December 28, 2012

Toyota Reaches Settlement in Faulty Acceleration Cases

Toyota agrees to pay $1.1 billion to settle lawsuit involving faulty acceleration in vehicles.

The Wall Street Journal (12/27, Ramsey, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports that Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay about $1.1 billion in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving complaints regarding problems with its vehicles' accelerators. As the Journal describes, Toyota had received a number of complaints that its vehicles accelerated when the driver did not intend to move faster, and this affair has harmed the company's reputation and sales. The article recounts that Toyota went through several recalls of vehicles in 2009/2010 and endured negative public scrutiny, including congressional hearings.
        The AP (12/27, Risling) reports that Toyota has said that "the deal will resolve hundreds of lawsuits from Toyota owners who said the value of their cars and trucks plummeted after a series of recalls stemming from claims that Toyota vehicles accelerated unintentionally." The AP quotes Steve Berman, a lawyer representing owners of Toyota vehicles, as saying, "We kept fighting and fighting and we secured what we think was a good settlement given the risks of this litigation." As the piece notes, "hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota since 2009, when the Japanese automaker started receiving numerous complaints that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths."
        Reuters (12/27, Seetharaman, Woodall) notes that a plaintiff memo indicated that the deal in the Toyota case amounts to a landmark settlement in automobile-defect class-action litigation in the US. The settlement must still be approved by a California Federal judge.
        The Detroit Free Press (12/27, Snavely, 280K) notes that "Toyota said it plans to retrofit additional models with a free brake-override system to provide an added measure of confidence that its vehicles can be stopped if they accelerate unexpectedly." The company also agreed to "pay another $250 million to reimburse owners whose vehicles cannot be retrofitted with the brake-override system."
        The Recorder (12/27, Blum) also covers this stor

Nap Nanny Baby Recliners Recalled After Infant Deaths

Over 150,000 baby recliners recalled following at least five infant deaths.

The AP (12/28) reports, "Four national retailers agreed to recall more than 150,000 Nap Nanny baby recliners after at least five infant deaths and dozens of reports of children nearly falling out of the recliners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday." According to the AP, the recall covers several models of the Nap Nanny infant recliners, all of which were sold between 2009 and 2012. The CPSC has warned parents and caregivers that "the Nap Nanny contains defects in its design, warnings and instructions," creating a "substantial risk of injury and death to infants." The four retailers that have agreed to voluntarily recall the recliners include, Buy Buy Baby, and Toys R Us/Babies R Us. The AP adds that the manufacturer of the recliners, Baby Matters LLC of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, said earlier this month that it had gone out of business.

        The Wall Street Journal (12/28, Page B6, Rubin, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports that earlier this month, the CPSC filed a civil suit against Baby Matters LLC in order to force action regarding the infant recliners. The Journal notes that the CPSC sued Baby Matters LLC after it was unsuccessful in attempting to reach a voluntary-recall plan with the company. According to the article, the CPSC is aware of four infant deaths involving Nap Nanny recliners and a fifth death involving the company's Chill model.

        NBC News (12/28) notes on its website that "five thousand Nap Nanny Generation One and 50,000 Generation Two models were sold between 2009 and early 2012," and "about 100,000 Chill models have been sold since January 2011."

        The Los Angeles Times (12/28, Hsu, 692K) reports that "in addition to the fatalities, the CPSC said it received nearly 100 reports of children hanging out of or nearly falling over the sides of the seats, even when a built-in harness was used. The portable recliners featured a foam base shaped like a bucket seat and a fitted fabric cover."

        Consumer Reports (12/28, DiBenedetto) reports that the Nap Nanny baby recliner "originally was recalled in 2010 after the first reported death in a Nap Nanny, as well as 22 reports of infants hanging or falling out over the side of the product, even though most of the infants had been placed in the recliner's harness." However, "despite the improvements to the warnings and instructions, additional deaths using the Nap Nanny recliners were reported. Since the 2010 recall, in fact, the CPSC received an additional 70 reports of children nearly falling out of the product."
        The NPR (12/28, Hensley) "Shots" blog, Newsday (12/28, Berger, 402K), the Philadelphia Inquirer (12/28, Mastrull, 306K), the Philadelphia Business Journal (12/28, Van Allen, Subscription Publication), Dow Jones Newswires (12/28) and RTT News (12/28) also cover this story.