US District Judge, James Selna, is currently overseeing around 230 consolidated federal lawsuits filed by drivers claiming injury, death and financial loss as a result of the acceleration issue that plagued more than eight million vehicles worldwide.
Many of those claim that an electrical fault had a role to play in instances of unintended acceleration. This is so far yet to be proven and has been denied completely and passionately by Toyota.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) last week said that unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles could have been responsible for as many as 89 deaths in the US alone.
The Japanese manufacturing giant, which made its name for producing safe and reliable cars, is now facing civil liability possibly in excess of $US10 billion.
Judge Selna ordered Toyota to supply the court with all English documents within 30 days and all Japanese documents within 60 days, aiming to avoid the reality of many consolidated cases that have been known to drag on for years. He has been open in his enthusiasm to get the trial underway.
Privileged papers (those containing communication between Toyota and its lawyers) are exempt from the judge’s orders.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys originally requested access to around 125,000 pages that have already been reviewed by regulators and Congress but remained largely confidential, but Toyota lawyers said such a request was both premature and in violation of pre-trial information sharing rules.
The hearing is set to continue on June 23.
Toyota confirmed that it is facing close to 100 additional state lawsuits with around 40 of those last week ordered to be consolidated.