Toyota Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Highlander Problems

Toyota Motor North America faces a class action lawsuit that alleges the automaker knowingly sold Highlander SUVs with defective power doors.  

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Annita Emerson on June 19, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking class action status to include all Toyota Highlander owners.

According to allegations raised in the Toyota class action, the automaker knew or should have known that Emerson’s 2009 Highlander featured a defective rear power lift gate, which eventually broke, locking her door open permanently until repairs could be made.

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Emerson’s complaint alleges that Toyota has known about the problem since at least 2010, has rejected requests to pay for the fix, and actively covered up the problem. The company has reportedly ignored complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and reports from owners posted on its own websites.

Toyota put out a service bulletin in 2012, specifically stating that “Some 2008-2012 model year Highlander and Highlander HV vehicles may exhibit a condition where the Power Back Door does not close properly,” the lawsuit notes, which Emerson says shows that the company is actively refusing to address a mechanical defect of which it is fully aware.

“Defendants knew about the Defect since at least 2010,” the lawsuits states. “Nevertheless, following the notice, Defendants have failed to issue any recall or provide compensation for those who had already repaired their power lift gate or paid for damages resulting from the failure.”

The lawsuit claims that Toyota should be required to fix the problems by the warranty agreements made with Highlander SUV buyers, seeking to pursue damages on behalf of all persons who formerly or currently own or lease the Toyota Highlander XU20, XU40, XU50, and the MHU28 Hybrid Highlander vehicles.

The lawsuit accuses Toyota of violating consumer protection laws, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and violating warranty agreements.

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4 Comments

  • EvonneJuly 19, 2022 at 6:16 am

    Oil disappears without any warning notification that the oil is low only made a ding when I turned a sharp corner I checked my oil it was completely dry there is no oil leak. I took it to Toyota dealership they said I need a new engine my piston rings are bad that’s ridiculous I’ve only had the car for 4 years and I maintain it, Toyota has past issues with defective piston rings but they say they [Show More]Oil disappears without any warning notification that the oil is low only made a ding when I turned a sharp corner I checked my oil it was completely dry there is no oil leak. I took it to Toyota dealership they said I need a new engine my piston rings are bad that’s ridiculous I’ve only had the car for 4 years and I maintain it, Toyota has past issues with defective piston rings but they say they can’t do anything for me. My car is a 2018 Toyota Highlander

  • GMarch 3, 2022 at 3:25 am

    I have a hand me down once my mother and father passed away. Never did they nor did I know about recalls on the Toyota Highlander 2009 limited edition . Today I had to pay over 2,000 dollars just to get one thing that was recalled. We never got notice. My brother lives at my old parents house. And nothing. Not one thing has bee mailed about a recall. Today I did pay ove 2,000.00 dollars on an[Show More]I have a hand me down once my mother and father passed away. Never did they nor did I know about recalls on the Toyota Highlander 2009 limited edition . Today I had to pay over 2,000 dollars just to get one thing that was recalled. We never got notice. My brother lives at my old parents house. And nothing. Not one thing has bee mailed about a recall. Today I did pay ove 2,000.00 dollars on an item that was recall and it expired 2019. I inherited the automobile on April 2018. And didn’t drive it to Mississippi till late August. Too many recalls on this car. But the fact stated expired 2019 or 150,000 miles. I’m yet to reach 150 miles. Something has to give. The window seals have fallen off. The lights are all foggy from sunlight. I keep up the car and so did my mother before she passed. And then my father drove it to Publix about a quarter of a mile. I never knew about the huge lawsuit that’s underway. How can a company not keep up nor send mail to specific addresses. I really need an answer. And I do want to pursue the class action sue against Toyota. I have a 2009 with about 140,000 miles. Toyotas just do not die. If I knew I had to pay for this recall. Things should have been different. At least tell someone or understand what life has been. Toyota is yet to reply. Customer support is yet to reply. Please let me know another pathway to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.and while I asked for the parts to be placed in the back of the car. They never were. Imagine that. After he promised and stated that it was placed in my car. I’ve called two attorneys and they will not deal with Toyota.

  • JesaiasMarch 14, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Today, after picking up my baby from daycare I experienced a very scary and life threatening experience when my 2012 "Toyota Certified" presented the simptomps described above. After pulling over some witnesses and I recorded a video of the SUV red linening by it self and also not responding when gas was pressed.

  • CharleneJune 29, 2014 at 4:22 am

    Toyota's ELECTRONIC throttle control system software was found to have glitches that could cause high speed, sudden unintended acceleration. Worse, such an electronic glitch could render the fail-safe (way to stop the SUA) INEFFECTIVE. Result? The Toyota could be a runaway stoppable only by impact. Even then, the engine will continue revving forward until something stops forward (or backward as th[Show More]Toyota's ELECTRONIC throttle control system software was found to have glitches that could cause high speed, sudden unintended acceleration. Worse, such an electronic glitch could render the fail-safe (way to stop the SUA) INEFFECTIVE. Result? The Toyota could be a runaway stoppable only by impact. Even then, the engine will continue revving forward until something stops forward (or backward as the case may be) momentum. What has Toyota admitted to regarding ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration? Absolutely nothing, of course! It has washed its corporate hands clean of all things SUA-related since that huge $1.2 BILLION DOJ settlement. In the meantime, the NHTSA and Toyota have received countless complaints about Toyota and Lexus vehicles "taking off," "having a mind of its own," "going airborne," etc. Storefront crashes and crashes-into-buildings/homes continue with a disproportionate number attributed to Toyota and Lexus vehicles. There's a HUGE push to show driver "pedal misapplication" and much reference to this being a problem with "elderly" drivers. Drivers own complaints (showing remarkable similarity if one compares notes among these types of accidents) are discounted. Worse, drivers are discredited...some say even targeted...by those who wish to keep the truth from surfacing. Let's see...have we seen an automaker hide key safety-related information before? Have we seen any cases where the NHTSA has even covered for an automaker in such unconscionable actions? OK...you get the idea. THINK...why would an automaker wish to keep ELECTRONIC sudden unintended acceleration a secret? After all, isn't SUA history and just about pesky floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals, or better-yet driver error? NO! That's just what the automaker would like you to believe...and there's a HUGE economic reason for that, isn't there? Unfortunately, what you do not know about ELECTRONICALLY-induced SUA can be an issue as many of the current SUA victims are learning the hard way. An electronic sudden unintended acceleration event can result (and has!) in jail time for the driver. Why? Speculation of "pedal misapplication" is all that is left when the historically-unreliable EDR (black box) shows no braking even when the driver has two feet on the brake and incurs foot damage (see Tanya Spotts Lexus case). The Toyota electronic throttle control system software glitch has been found not to leave a fault code. The vehicle brakes which did NOT function at the time of the ETCS-i software glitch show no signs of a failure mode. The DRIVER is assumed GUILTY and the vehicle is found fault-free. It continues to happen DAILY. Absence of proof is NOT proof of absence. This electronic SUA problem is one that every driver should be concerned about. Drivers should be asking some tough questions of the automaker, Toyota specifically. Let's not forget that these engines are complex and computer-driven. Electronics will have glitches. The important factor is how these glitches are handled within and what safety standards have been applied. An electronic software glitch which renders a fail-safe ineffective is totally unacceptable. Don't make assumptions that strict safety standards have been applied when they have not!

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