A class action lawsuit filed against Toyota alleges that hundreds of thousands of Prius and Camry vehicles may have a defective braking system, which could intermittently fail, potentially increasing the risk of an auto accident.
Bonnie Hendricks, of Ohio, filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on April 3, indicating that the Japanese auto maker has knowingly sold certain Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon models that may be prone to suffering systemic braking system failures.
The lawsuit seeks class action status to pursue damages for other vehicle owners, claiming that the Toyota problems stem from the brake booster pump assembly, which may spontaneously, and with unreasonably frequency, fail to operate as necessary to ensure the brakes engage when the brake pedal is depressed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports receiving numerous statements from customers indicating the brakes on their Toyota vehicle consistently locked up, causing the vehicle to unexpectedly lunge forward. The agency has also received several complaints from customers indicating the brakes did not work at all.
The NHTSA is aware of multiple crashes and injuries related to the Toyota brake booster pump assembly problems.
The complaint alleges Toyota failed to respond accordingly to the safety defect, and has chosen to only make repairs on vehicles that have experienced a brake failure, which could result in injuries or even deaths that could otherwise be avoided.
Hendricks claims she experienced braking issues for the entire duration of her ownership of a Toyota Prius, alleging when she would attempt to slow down or stop the car would lurch, or surge forward when slowly depressing the brake pedal, even on smooth surfaces.
Hendricks further claimed that when she took the vehicle to dealership to have it checked out, service technicians informed her that absent a recall notice, they would not inspect the vehicle without charge and they had no knowledge of any defect concerning the brakes in her vehicle.
The complaint indicates the brake booster pump assembly defect is present in hundreds of thousands of model year 2010 through 2015 Prius or Prius PHV, 2012 through 2015 Prius V, 2012 through 2014 Camry Hybrid, and 2013 through 2015 Avalon Hybrid models distributed for sale throughout the United States.
The defect has reported been identified in both new and older models of the impacted vehicles. According to the NHTSA reports, the braking issues have been experienced on various types of road surfaces, including smooth highways.
The lawsuit presents claims of breach of warranties, illegal sales practices, fraudulent concealment, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Hendricks seeks compensatory and punitive damages for herself and all others who purchased the affected vehicles.