SANTA ANA, Calif. – After a four-year legal battle, Toyota is entering settlement talks on nearly 400 state and federal lawsuits that allege sudden unintended acceleration problems with its vehicles led to deaths and injuries.
Joint motions filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana and Los Angeles County Superior Court indicated both sides would begin an “intensive settlement process” next month.
The Japanese automaker, which has recalled millions of cars since 2009 over the acceleration issue, agreed to the negotiations to make resolving the cases more efficient, spokeswoman Carly Schaffner told the Associated Press on Friday.
The settlement negotiations come less than two months after an Oklahoma jury awarded a total of $3 million in damages to the injured driver of a 2005 Camry and to the family of a passenger who was killed.
It was the first case where attorneys for plaintiffs argued that the car’s electronics were the cause of the unintended acceleration. Toyota has blamed drivers, stuck accelerators or floor mats that trapped the gas pedal for the acceleration claims that led to the big recalls of Camrys and other vehicles. The company has repeatedly denied its vehicles are flawed.
California sentiment on unions sours a bit
LOS ANGELES – California has long been a union stronghold, but voters in the reliably Democratic state are gradually taking a more negative view of organized labor, a poll released Friday suggested.
The independent Field Poll said that by a narrow margin, more voters said unions do more harm than good, as opposed to those who see organized labor as generally beneficial.
The figures represent a turnaround from a 2011 Field survey, when more voters said unions resulted in more good than harm.
The shift tracks a long-running national trend in which support for labor unions has gradually slipped.
In many communities “public pensions are starting to crowd out the services that local governments can provide. That doesn’t sit well with the public,” pollster Mark DiCamillo said.
Charter to make offer for Time Warner Cable
LOS ANGELES – Cable TV operator Charter Communications Inc. is preparing to send a letter offering to buy the much larger Time Warner Cable Inc. for below $135 per share as early as Monday.
That’s according to a person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The news was reported earlier by the New York Times’ DealBook blog.
The offer would value Time Warner Cable at up to $38 billion and represents a small premium to the New York company’s closing price of $131.41, up 35 cents, on Friday.