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Maryland Pension Fund in Toyota Product Defect Litigation

Maryland will feature prominently going forward in the product defect claims against Toyota Motor Corporation that allege accidents caused by sudden accelerations attributed to both system flaws and floor-mat issues.

The state's public pension fund - the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System - is claiming an estimated $18 million in damages from the automaker, based on its investment in Toyota's American depositary receipts and the company's common stock. The mutual fund, which has been designated as the lead plaintiff in a consolidated shareholder lawsuit brought in federal court in Los Angeles, states that it would not have invested in Toyota if the corporation had timely disclosed the acceleration defects, which it failed to do.

A Maryland attorney general's office spokesperson stated that, "We would not want any state employees to be concerned about their pensions." He added that Maryland was involved in the lawsuit "to achieve the public good."

In separate litigation, a large number of consumer lawsuits have been combined in federal court in Santa Ana, California, alleging that the value of Toyota vehicles fell because of the company's failure to disclose and remedy the acceleration defects, prompting them to lose money on their stock investments. In theiramended complaint, the consumers cite Toyota's proclamation that safety is a company hallmark and state that "the defects causing unintended acceleration have cause defective vehicles' values to plummet."

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer, the judge in the pension fund shareholder case, has urged that the parties in both lawsuits coordinate discovery efforts to streamline the process and avoid duplication in collecting evidence.

Related Resource: www.businessweek.com "Toyota Will Face Maryland Fund as Leader in Shareholder Lawsuit" August 3, 2010

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