Filed in Los Angeles, by plaintiff Jevdet Rexhepi, the complaint states that Prius hybrid model years 2010 to 2016 have a defect that potentiates failure of the intelligent power module, creating a serious risk for engine stalls during high-speed travel. In 2014, Toyota Motor Sales Inc. recalled the cars, describing the recall as a “warranty enhancement program,” to fix the problem, the plaintiff states. However, the lawsuit asserts that this was merely an attempt by Toyota to hide the true nature of the intelligent power module defect. Further, the lawsuit states that Toyota didn’t actually cure the problem by replacing the part because it cost too much. “Thus, for cost reasons, [Toyota] knowingly placed its customers at serious risk of injury and death,” plaintiff Rexhepi states.
Further, the complaint notes that the software update used by Toyota to address the issue of stalling, in fact created a new and different problem that resulted in the vehicles’ engines not being able to accelerate normally and becoming sluggish. “Consequently, [Toyota’s] sham recall not only allowed a serious stalling problem to continue unabated, but diminished the performance of class vehicles to the extent that it put the driver (as well as vehicle occupants) at risk of a collision as a result of the driver being unable to adequately accelerate the engine, thereby creating an additional safety risk,” the complaint states.
Marketed as an environmentally friendly and safe vehicle, Toyota states that some seven million of the Prius hybrids have been sold as of October 2014, according to the complaint. However, Toyota has been aware of the alleged stalling defect but has rejected requests from its dealers to fix it. The plaintiff cites a post on the website of a Toyota dealer in Claremont, California, informing customers of the safety concerns with the cars, even after the recall repair, and stating it had asked Toyota to address the problem, the estimated cost of which is between $3,000 and $10,000 according to the complaint.
“And because the intelligent power module defect is the result of multiple defects that may not be permanently cured by simply replacing one defective intelligent power module with another defective module, some class members have replaced, and may continue to replace, the intelligent power module in the class vehicle more than once,” the plaintiff states.
Rexhepi seeks to represent a class of Californians who own a 2010 through 2016 model-year Prius hybrid, and those who used to own or lease one of those vehicles and who paid to replace or repair the intelligent power module.
The lawsuit alleges Toyota violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the state’s unfair competition laws.
Rexhepi is represented by Jeffrey Fazio of Fazio Micheletti LLP, Charles La Duca of Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP, Adam Levitt and Amy Keller of DiCello Levitt & Casey LLC, W. Daniel Miles III and H. Clay Barnett III of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC.
The case is Rexhepi v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., case number BC692528, in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.