Toyota To Settle 'Sudden Acceleration' Lawsuits

Owners of Toyota vehicles that experienced sudden and unintended acceleration have reached a settlement requiring the carmaker to pay as much as $1.4 billion in claims. A judge will review the proposal Friday.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We begin NPR's business news with a huge payout by Toyota.

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GREENE: The automaker has agreed to a settlement of more than a billion dollars to resolve cases of unintended acceleration. Toyota will install safety equipment or make payouts to the owners of up to 16 million vehicles.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: When claims of unintended acceleration hit Toyota in 2009, it affected the company in almost every way. Millions of cars were recalled. Toyota executives were hauled in front of Congress. The company paid millions of dollars in fines. Sales fell. The stock price took a hit. But most importantly, the company's stellar reputation was damaged.

Both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA tested Toyota vehicles and neither agency found the cars' electronics to be the cause of unintended acceleration.

But lawyers in a class action suit were set to go to trial. And to avoid that Toyota decided to settle and take more than a billion dollar loss. Toyota will compensate some owners who lost money when they resold their cars and the company will install a fix to insure the brake pedal will always override the accelerator.

This settlement does not cover claims by those seeking compensation for injury and death due to sudden acceleration.

While the whole sudden tarnished Toyota image, the company has made a comeback since 2009. By year's end, it says it will reclaim the sales title of number one automaker in the world.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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