Wolf Haldenstein Announces the Settlement of the Toyota Sienna Sliding Door Consumer Protection Class Action Litigation
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP is pleased to announce that, on June 10, 2019, Judge Victor A. Bolden of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut approved the settlement of Simerlein et al. v. Toyota Motor Corporation et al., Case No. 3:17-CV-01021-VAB (D. Conn.), a class action on behalf of the owners and lessees of an estimated 1.3 million model year 2011 through 2018 Toyota Sienna minivans with sliding doors. In the litigation, Plaintiffs alleged that the sliding doors in certain Sienna minivans were defective and asserted claims under the consumer protection statutes of numerous states as well as warranty and other claims. Court-appointed co-class counsel Demet Basar of Wolf Haldenstein, W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III of Beasley Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. and Adam J. Levitt of DiCello Levitt & Gutzler LLC, led a dedicated legal team that was successful in obtaining quality class-wide relief, including for those class members who may have experienced issues with their vehicles’ sliding doors, thereby achieving the goal of the class litigation. The settlement is valued at between $30 and $40 million.
This litigation arose from Toyota’s December 2016 “G04 Recall,” in which Toyota recalled certain model year 2011 through 2016 Siennas because of the possibility that the rear power sliding doors could open independently while the vehicles were in motion, a serious safety issue that could result in injury or even death. In the Simerlein class action, the firm’s clients, all of whom were parents concerned about the safety of their children in their minivans, alleged that the Siennas’ doors were inherently defective, and that the G04 Recall was not sufficient to render the doors safe. The sole remedy that the GO4 Recall offered consisted of replacing a door’s junction box and the door motor wiring harness that connected the junction box to other components of the door. Plaintiffs alleged that this partial electrical remedy did not address all of the safety hazards potentially posed by the doors, and that problems with the doors’ cables, latches and lock assemblies could also cause the doors to open or close independently or otherwise malfunction. Plaintiffs also believed that the problems with the Sienna doors continued beyond the 2011 through 2016 model years covered by the recall, and brought claims on behalf of owners and lessees of model year 2017 and 2018 Sienna minivans.
Many of the complaints posted on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning the Sienna minivan’s doors did not relate to the electric issues covered by the recall, but were about malfunctions of the minivan’s door cables, latches and other components. The investigation performed by co-class counsel during the litigation confirmed that the dangerous door malfunctions at issue could occur because of problems with door cables, latches, lock assemblies and other mechanical weaknesses.
The settlement now approved by the Court provides classwide relief that addresses these issues. Under the terms of this economic loss class action settlement, Toyota will launch a Customer Confidence Program that will provide prospective coverage, free of charge to class members, for repairs to sliding door components for a period of ten years from the first use of the vehicle, which will “travel with the car” such that subsequent owners will also be protected. This warranty coverage includes, on an as needed basis, the replacement of door latches, locks, hinges, cable sub-assemblies and fuel door assemblies, and an extension of the availability of the G04 Recall repair. As an added measure, for those class members who have any concerns about their vehicles’ sliding doors, Toyota will offer one sliding door inspection for each subject vehicle at no cost to class members for one year from the date the Court approved the settlement. For vehicles undergoing repairs that are covered by the Customer Confidence Program that will exceed four hours to complete, Toyota will provide a loaner vehicle to eligible class members. In addition, class members who have incurred out-of-pocket expenses for repairs to the components covered by the Customer Confidence Program can submit a claim for reimbursement of those covered repairs in a streamlined claim administration program approved by the Court. Details of the settlement are set forth in http://www.toyotasiennadoorsettlement.com/.
We believe the relief provided under the settlement directly and comprehensively addresses all of the safety concerns underlying the litigation, and ensures that the Sienna minivans’ doors will operate as intended for the benefit of the owners and lessees of the estimated 1.3 million model year 2011-2018 Sienna minivans in the U.S. and its territories.
Founded in 1888, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP has extensive experience in the prosecution of securities class actions and derivative litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country. The firm has attorneys in various practice areas; and offices in New York, Chicago and San Diego. The reputation and expertise of this firm in shareholder and other class litigation has been repeatedly recognized by the courts, which have appointed it to major positions in complex securities multi-district and consolidated litigation.
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP
Kate McGuire, Esq.
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