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Toyota Prius and Camry braking systems at the center of new lawsuit

Critics say the automaker is putting drivers in ‘life-threatening’ situations

Photo (c) KMoFoto - Getty Images
A new class action lawsuit is taking on Toyota saying that the brakes on various Prius and Camry Hybrid models are defective to the point of being a safety risk.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that the following Toyota models possess defective brake booster pump assemblies:

  • 2010-2015 Prius and Prius PHV;

  • 2012-2015 Prius V;

  • 2012-2014 Camry Hybrid; and the 

  • 2013-2015 Avalon Hybrid.

The backstory of the lawsuit

The new lawsuit was filed by California resident Mariano Alaniz, according to TopClassActions. In 2017, Alaniz purchased a used 2014 Toyota Prius from a Toyota-authorized dealer with the understanding that the vehicle was defect-free. However, once he started driving the car, he claims he experienced the brake defect countless times.

Alaniz alleges that there were no advertisements or representations seen by or offered to him that would indicate the vehicle was defective. He argues that if, in fact, Toyota had been upfront about the defect, he would have either not bought the car or paid less.

Nothing new to Toyota owners

Toyota has been in similar situations with brake issues before. Previously the carmaker issued a recall to fix a problem on 133,000 2010 Prius models and 14,500 Lexus vehicles. The automaker has also had to face the Feds over braking problems in another 30,000 Camry hybrids.

Truth be known, Toyota’s timeline of troubles is rather long. Dating back to 2007, the automaker has recalled more than 10 million vehicles because of everything from brakes to floor mats.

Both Toyota and the Department of Transportation dragged their heels 

The lawsuit maintains that Toyota was fully aware of the flaw and went as far as recalling an undetermined number of vehicles. Alaniz insists that not issuing a complete recall left many vehicle owners at risk. 

Roger Hogan, President of a California Toyota dealership Capistrano Toyota, offered his own criticism of the situation. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Hogan said that the brake defect was causing crashes that injured people. 

“Toyota continues to allow the unsuspecting public to experience life-threatening brake failures … (and) has violated the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966,” Hogan stated.

Hogan also took umbrage with the Department of Transportation (DOT). He maintains that the agency claimed there was “insufficient evidence to…initiate a recall,” even though he and other Toyota owners provided evidence of instances in which vehicle brake systems failed.

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