Orange Country District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed a civil lawsuit against Toyota on March 12 accusing the Japanese automaker of intentionally hiding deadly defects from consumers. "We'll be alleging in court on behalf of the people of Orange County that Toyota knowingly sold cars and trucks with defects that caused Toyotas to accelerate suddenly and uncontrollably," Rackauckas said.
Toyota has already been hit with dozens of lawsuits from owners seeking compensation in the wake of a series of mass recalls due to defects that led to sudden, unintended acceleration.
This suit is the first filed under consumer protection laws and the district attorney is seeking a civil penalty of $2,500 for every violation of the state's unfair business practices act.
"These defects exist in hundreds of thousands of Toyotas sold to Californians over the last several years," Rackauckas said.
Rackauckas said the purpose of the suit is to protect the public from "unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices."
"Toyota has known about these defects but intentionally did not disclose them to California purchasers,' he said. "Rather than halt the sales of products in California until the problem was fixed, they made a business decision to continue selling and leasing their defective products to Californians."
Toyota said that it "has not received the complaint and is not in a position to comment on pending litigation."