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Toyota Facing Product Liability Lawsuits for Melting Dashboards

More and more owners of Toyota brand vehicles are facing a problem in Florida – their cars’ dashboards are melting in the hot, southern sun. The consequences of the melting dashboards have led to accidents and injuries among drivers and passengers. As of now, two separate class action lawsuits have been filed against car makers for their faulty dashboards, and despite multiple claims of defective products the vehicle manufacturers have refused to issue a recall.

Toyota’s Melting Dashboards

A local news station in Florida, WPTV, launched an investigation into the claims of melting dashboards in Toyota vehicles. Drivers claim that their dashboards and other interior panels have melted, becoming sticky and shiny, making the dashboards difficult to clean, and creating a dangerous glare on their windshields when driving. Investigators showed the stories of several drivers who claimed that the melting persisted even when using tinted windows and sunshades.

One Toyota dealership in West Palm Beach has even requested that the Toyota manufacturer issue a recall for the defective dashboards and panels, and four accidents have since been attributed to the dangerous glare that results from the dashboards melting while drivers are on the road.

Lexus Class Action Lawsuit

Earlier this year, a class action lawsuit was also filed against Lexus and their dealerships, claiming that the materials in the vehicle’s dashboard and various interior panels were defective because of its inability to withstand the state’s hot weather. As a result, the class action claims that the car’s dashboard and interior surfaces melted. It left behind a sticky residue as well as shiny and cracked panels.

The lawsuit claims that Lexus knew about the complaints of defective products since 2011 when the dealerships received service bulletins about melting dashboards. In the same memo, Lexus instructed its dealerships to repair or replace interior panels of IS250 and IS350 models made between 2006 and 2008 that exhibited “sticky or poor” appearances. However, these repairs were only performed on vehicles that were still under warranty and the company never issued a formal recall that would cover the cost of replacing melted dashboards in vehicles no longer under warranty.

Other Complaints of Melting Dashboards

In the dealerships, on consumer report websites, and on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website drivers have been complaining of melting dashboards and interior panels on other vehicles made under the umbrella of Toyota. Complaints have been filed against Nissan and Mazda cars, in addition to Toyota and Lexus. Specific models include Toyota Camry, Toyota Yaris, Mazda 3 and 6, Lexus IS250 and IS350, and Nissan Altima.

All of the claims center on the vehicles being unable to withstand normal weather conditions in the South, and many believe that the melting parts create a driving hazard in addition to posing a health risk. While most of these manufacturers have acknowledged the complaints, the companies have yet to issue a major recall for any affected vehicles.

Florida Product Liability

If you have been injured because of a defective product, you may have a claim for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, wholesaler, and distributor. There are two main types of product defects under Florida law: manufacturing defects and design defects.

A manufacturing defect is caused by an error in assembly and not intended to be part of the product. This type of defect is only found in a small percentage of the product. A design defect is an error in the original design of the product that causes the product to be unreasonably dangerous and creates a hazard for potential users.

Elements of a Product Liability Claim

Product liability claims are generally proven using one of three theories: negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Under negligence, you must show carelessness on the part of the manufacturer in the design or manufacture of the product. In order to have a successful product liability claim against a manufacturer, under Florida law you must prove the following elements for a negligence claim:

  • You were injured or suffered loss;
  • The product was defective;
  • The defect was a proximate and actual cause of the injury; and
  • The product was being used as it was intended.

Under a theory of strict liability, the product must be purchased in the chain of distribution and not second hand. However, the manufacturers are held to a higher standard under strict liability and under Florida law you must prove:

  • The manufacturer, wholesaler, or distributor’s relationship to the product;
  • A defect in the product that causes an unreasonably dangerous condition; and
  • The defect was the cause of your injuries.

In addition, under strict liability a product can be defective because of a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or for a failure to warn users of hazards with the product. Florida law states that you must only show that the manufacturer did not adequately warn users of known hazards or hazards that should have been known.

When a product is sold, two types of warranties, express and implied, are attached to the product. Express warranties are any representation made about the product by the manufacturer, wholesaler, or distributor. Implied warranties are an unspoken promise by the parties that the product will not cause any harm. Under Florida law, a breach of warranty claim for product liability covers any person who would be reasonably expected to use the product.

Product Liability Compensation

Damages that can be collected from a products liability claim are separated into three categories: compensatory, special, and punitive damages. These damages can include:

  • Present and future medical costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Impaired earning ability or disability;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Property damage;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Punitive damages;

…and any other costs that are reasonably related to the damage caused by the faulty product.

Call a Florida Product Liability Lawyer Today

Melting dashboards in a vehicle can be both a driving hazard and a health risk for you as well as any passengers. If you or someone you know has been facing these types of problems in the Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Myers or West Palm Beach area you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer and The Pendas Law Firm can help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation.

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