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Toyota settles unintended acceleration claims

Attorney General Jim Hood announced Monday morning Mississippi was one of 29 states to settle with Toyota Motor Corp. related to unintended acceleration issues in some of the company’s vehicles.

Mississippi will receive $561,288 of the $29 million Toyota will pay to settle consumer protection claims. Toyota will also be banned from advertising safety features of its vehicles without what a press release from Hood’s office calls “sound engineering data to back such safety claims.”

Mississippi and the 28 other states claimed during the litigation that Toyota had engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when the company failed to timely disclose known safety defects with accelerator pedals.

“Our investigation led us to determine poor communication between Toyota’s nerve center in Japan and Toyota’s United States holdings were partially responsible for Toyota’s failure to report known safety issues in a timely manner,” Hood is quoted as saying in the release.

In addition, the settlement provides that Toyota is:

• Prohibited from reselling a vehicle it reacquired with alleged safety defects without informing the purchaser about the alleged defect(s) and certifying that the reacquired vehicle has been fixed

• Prohibited from misrepresenting the purpose of an inspection or repair when directing consumers to bring their vehicles to a dealer for inspection or repair

• Required to exclude from the “Toyota Certified Used Vehicles” or “Lexus Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles” categories any vehicle acquired through lemon law proceedings or voluntarily repurchased by Toyota to ensure customer satisfaction.

Consumers who have questions about restitution related to the settlement can call one of two hotlines Toyota has set up. For Toyota vehicles, call 800-331-4331. For Lexus vehicles, call 800-255-3987.

Lines are staffed from 8 a.m. CST to 8 p.m. CST Monday thru Friday, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. CST to 6 p.m. CST.

Toyota settled late last year separate litigation related to the same issues. The company agreed to pay out $1.1 billion, and to set up a fund that would retrofit affected vehicles with technology to counter the unintended acceleration.

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