Product Liability & Toxics Law News

Toyota Must Face Suit Alleging Headlight Feature Deception

Dec. 14, 2018, 3:24 PM

Toyota Motor Corp. must face a proposed class suit alleging it deceived consumers about standard headlight features in some Rav 4 vehicles.

Yan Mei Zheng-Lawson, Yuanteng Pei, and Joanne E. Ferrera alleged they overpaid based on brochures that said an “auto on/off” headlight feature was included on 2016 Toyota Rav 4 XLE, XLE Hybrid, and SE models when the feature was not standard on those models.

The plaintiffs may proceed with breach of warranty claims, as well as claims under the consumer protection laws of New York, California, and Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said in refusing to dismiss the case.

Disclaimers in the brochures concerning standard equipment did not negate the claims, the court said.

Statements that the information in the brochures was based on “data available at the time of printing” and was “subject to change without notice” did not clearly inform consumers that the bullet point lists of vehicle features were “meaningless,” the court said.

Similarly, directing consumers to contact a local Toyota dealer for details regarding the availability of a vehicle with particular equipment did not inform consumers that the standard models described in the brochure were non-existent in the United States, it said.

Plaintiffs seek to represent a national class, as well as subclasses of consumers from New York, Pennsylvania, and California.

Green and Noblin, P.C. and others represent the plaintiffs. Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP represents Toyota.

The case is Zheng-Lawson v. Toyota Motor Corp., 2018 BL 463034, N.D. Cal., No. 17-6591, 12/13/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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