Maryland and 29 states reach $29 million consumer protection settlement with Toyota

Attorneys General in Maryland and 29 other states have reached a $29 million settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. designed to strengthen protections for consumers impacted by safety defects and prevent miscommunication over faulty equipment.

Toyota had failed to warn consumers in a timely manner about known problems with unintended acceleration caused by sticky accelerator pedals and floor mat pedal entrapment, according to a complaint filed Thursday by the Maryland AG's Consumer Protection Division. Toyota had issued recalls related to the defects in nearly six million vehicles from 2007 to 2010, according to the complaint.

In a consent order agreed to by the automaker and the states, Toyota agreed to improve the safety culture within its U.S. operations and pay the $29 million, including more than $677,000 to Maryland. The payment could be placed in the state's consumer protection law enforcement fund or used for consumer education or civil penalties.

The order, filed with the complaint Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, also prohibits Toyota from advertising the safety of its vehicles without engineering data to back up the claims and from reselling possibly defective vehicles without fixing them.

The settlement "reflects the commitment of Toyota's 37,000 North American team members to put customers first in everything we do," including making vehicle information more accessible to promote driver safety, Toyota said in a statement.

Lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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