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Judge orders Toyota to hand over thousands of pages of records

May 28, 2010 |  1:43 pm

A federal judge Friday ordered Toyota Motor Corp. to turn over thousands of pages of records to lawyers who have sued the Japanese automaker because of alleged sudden-acceleration problems.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna gave Toyota 30 days to turn over documents that it had previously supplied Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The judge rejected Toyota's request for additional time to supply the documents.

Steven W. Berman, one of the attorneys representing Toyota vehicle owners, said the documents would help him and other lawyers prepare a consolidated class-action lawsuit that would seek compensation for Toyota owners. The owners contend that the value of their cars has diminished because of the recalls of millions of Toyota models that had sudden-acceleration problems.

More than 200 federal lawsuits have been consolidated before the judge based in Santa Ana in an effort to streamline what is expected to be a time-consuming and complex legal battle.

Some of the lawsuits seek damages for diminished value of Toyota vehicles and others seek compensation for drivers who were injured or killed in crashes blamed on sudden acceleration. Toyota has declined to discuss the lawsuits, but maintains the recalls have addressed all safety problems.

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-- Stuart Pfeifer