A putative class action seeks damages for an alleged battery defect in 2013-2018 Toyota RAV4 vehicles.
Specifically, according to the plaintiffs, the 12-volt battery B+ terminal can short out. This, in turn, they allege, can cause battery failure. The automobile then loses electrical power or stalls. Also, the plaintiffs claim an engine fire can start.
Toyota’s Alleged Knowledge & Consumer Complaints
The plaintiffs contend Toyota has long known of the alleged defect, via customer complaints, dealership repair records, access to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records, warranty and post-warranty claims, and pre-sale durability testing and part sales.
For example, as the lawsuit contends, NHTSA has received 55 complaints relating to the battery defect. As quoted in the filing, the complaints include statements such as:
- “THE ENGINE STARTED ON FIRE UNDER NORMAL DRIVING CONDITIONS. THE CAR WAS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY ACCIDENT. THE RAV4 LIMITED WAS TOTALED.”
- “WHILE DRIVING THE VEHICLE ON A CITY STREET, ALL THE LIGHTS ON THE DASHBOARD FLASHED ON, THEN OFF. VEHICLE IMMEDIATELY LOST ALL ENGINE AND ELECTRICAL POWER. I WAS ABLE TO DRIVE THE VEHICLE OFF THE ROAD AND ON TO A PARKING LOT. THINKING THAT A BATTERY CABLE POSSIBLY HAD COME LOOSE, I RAISED THE HOOD. THE AREA AT OR NEAR THE BATTERY WAS ON FIRE. I CALLED 9-1-1, BUT BY THE TIME THE FIRE DEPARTMENT ARRIVED, THE ENTIRE FRONT PART OF THE VEHICLE WAS IN FLAMES.”
The plaintiffs argue that although Toyota issued a Limited New Vehicle Warranty with each Class Vehicle, it has “evaded its warranty obligations” by not disclosing the defect and refusing to perform corrective repairs. The complaint alleges violations of consumer protection statutes, express warranty, implied warranty, and duty of good faith and fair dealing, as well as fraudulent omission and concealment.
The lawsuit seeks to establish a nationwide class of plaintiffs, or, alternatively, California and Texas classes. The remedies sought include damages, restitution, and an order that Toyota repair, recall, and/or replace the Class Vehicles and extend applicable warranties, or provide a curative notice about the alleged defect.
The case is Ranay Flowers, et al. v. Toyota Motor Corporation, et al., case number 4:21-cv-00460, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.