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A federal judge ruled on Friday that Toyota vehicle owners may move forward with a class-action lawsuit that alleges Toyota’s sudden / unintended acceleration problems caused their vehicles to lose value. Toyota stopped production of a number of its vehicles and recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide because of the sudden acceleration problem. [More on the Toyota recall]

The judge made a preliminary finding that the class action plaintiffs had made allegations that, if true, could create liability for Toyota. The Court is expected to make its ruling final this week. The Toyota sudden acceleration class action case is different than individual cases in which the drivers or occupants were injured by the unintended acceleration defect.

In September, Toyota settled the lawsuit over the case in which off-duty California Highway Patrolman Mark Saylor and his family were killed after their borrowed Lexus unexpectedly accelerated and could not be slowed down. Graphic 911 dispatch tapes were released detailing the family’s final moments.

Toyota has also been sued by its own investors who say the company’s stock was misvalued when Toyota failed to disclose acceleration-related defects the company knew about. Insurance giant, Allstate, has also sued Toyota to recover claims paid for accidents linked to sudden acceleration.

In related news, Police in Wendover, Utah last week determined that a sticky accelerator on a Toyota Camry is the likely cause of a collision that killed two people and injured two others. Tire skid marks at the crash site showed that the driver tried to stop the Camry as it exited I-80, but the car went through an intersection before hitting a rock wall. The Camry’s brakes appeared to be in working order.

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(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison

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