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DATE News (chronologically)
12/24/10
automotive
Toyota goes from bad to worse UPDATE Toyota agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit tied to a fatal August 2009 accident near San Diego that killed four members of the same family, elevated concerns about possible unintended acceleration and triggered recalls of more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S.

The settlement amount was disclosed by Larry Willis, an attorney representing Bob Baker Lexus, a Lexus dealership, in El Cajon, Calif., which is also a defendant in the case.

Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer, his wife Cleofe Lastrella, a brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala, were traveling in a 2009 Lexus ES, which the dealership loaned them while their vehicle underwent repairs.

Saylor reported, in a chilling 911 call moments before the fatal crash, that the car accelerated beyond his control. The parents of Saylor and the parents of his wife and brother-in-law have agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for the payment.

12/21/10 Toyota has agreed to pay the government a record $32.4 million in additional fines to settle an investigation into its handling of two recalls at the heart of its safety crisis.

The Transportation Department said late Monday that the civil penalties will settle investigations into how Toyota dealt with recalls over accelerator pedals that could get trapped in floor mats, and steering relay rods that could break and lead to drivers losing control.

"I am pleased that Toyota agreed to pay the maximum possible penalty, and I expect Toyota to work cooperatively in the future to ensure consumers' safety," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The latest settlement, on top of a $16.4-million fine Toyota paid in a related investigation, brings the total penalties levied on the company to $48.8 million. It caps a difficult year for the world's No. 1 automaker, which has recalled more than 11 million vehicles globally since the fall of 2009 and scrambled to protect its reputation for safety.

Toyota's board of directors agreed today to pay the fines at the company's board meeting in Japan, and the company said it agreed to the penalties without admitting to any violations of U.S. laws. However, that does not free Toyota from potential civil and criminal penalties in private lawsuits and other federal investigations.

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