Toyota Faces Class Action over Soy Based Wiring

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Springfield, MA: A proposed defective automotive class action has been filed against Toyota alleging the automotive giant used soy-based materials in some of its car wiring materials, which has attracted rats and mice which gnaw at the wiring. Toyota has so far refused to cover repairs under warranty, the lawsuit claims.

Filed by Plaintiff Ray Roscoe, the lawsuit claims that he was told by a Toyota dealership in December 2016 that an additional extended warranty he had purchased did not cover the extensive damage caused by mice on his 2012 Toyota Sequoia. This is because rodents are considered an “outside source of damage to the car”, even though the dealership has to retain a “mouse man” whose sole job is to repair the vehicle damage rodents cause, according to the complaint.

“The inclusion of soy-based materials in class vehicle electrical wiring and wiring components attracts rodents and other animals that nest under the hoods of class vehicles and feast on the soy insulation and electrical wires, thereby compromising the integrity of class vehicle electrical systems and rendering class vehicles fully or partially inoperable,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit goes on the state that complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provide evidence that many consumers have experienced wire damage caused by rodents and other animals chewing the soy-based portions of the wiring in several Toyota models. Class vehicles include the 2009-2016 Camry, 2002-2016 Camry Hybrid and the 2014-2016 Corolla, among others.

Further, the lawsuit alleges Toyota must have been aware of the defect from the NHTSA records as well as various news reports and its own log of customers’ complaints, but nevertheless “routinely refuses” to repair the vehicles under warranty because it says rodent damage is an environmental problem.

“The environmentally friendly and less expensive soy-based coating is the problem,” the complaint states. “While class vehicles are essentially being attacked by rodents and other animals, older vehicles with non-soy-based insulated wires that are exposed to similar conditions do not experience rodent-caused damage.”

The plaintiff is seeking a minimum of $17,405.36 in damages to recoup the cost of repairs and a rental car he used while his car was in the shop. The proposed class is defined to include everyone in Massachusetts who owns or leases one of 17 Toyota vehicle models, which could involve “many thousand[s]” of class members, according to the complaint.

Roscoe is represented by Jeffrey S. Morneau and Andrea S. Harrington of Connor Morneau & Olin LLP.

The case is Ray Roscoe individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., number 3:17-cv-12332 in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts.

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