New Toyota suit: Just give car owners their money back

A Seattle law firm thinks it has a better solution for Toyota's unintended acceleration problems: give Toyota owners their money back for their cars.

That's the demand in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle and in Arizona by the Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro law firm. The suit, filed on behalf of a Normandy Park couple, seeks the court's approval to expand its scope to a class action including all Washington and Arizona owners of Toyotas whose cars have been subject to recalls because acceleration problems. Attorney Steve Berman said the suit will be filed in other states soon.

The suit contends that Toyota has botched the safety recall so profoundly that the only proper solution is to offer owners a full refund for the original price of their cars.

"After what people have read in the papers and seen on television about Toyotas, they've not comfortable taking their daughters to school in them even if they've had the repair," Berman said in an interview.

Toyota contends that a relatively simple retrofit to the gas pedal or a change in floormats will eliminate problems owners have reported of Toyotas continuing to accelerate even after they've removed their foot from the gas pedal. Others contend that the Japanese manufacturer hasn't found the root of the acceleration issue, contending it lies in the design of the electronically-controlled accelerator.

More than three dozen people may have died in accidents because of Toyota acceleration issues, the federal government says. Toyota had not returned a call seeking comment on the new suit by mid-afternoon Monday.

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