California Jury Holds Toyota Responsible for Failing to Address Prius Defects

A recent decision by an Orange County jury compels Toyota to pay nearly $16 million to the owner of several Southern California dealerships. According to the plaintiff, Roger Hogan, Toyota’s recalls to address a defective power system affecting several Prius models did not sufficiently fix these safety issues. In addition, Hogan alleged that Toyota began to retaliate against him after he began to voice concerns over the company’s failure to adequately address the safety issues. The verdict, decided in July 2019, has brought great comfort to Hogan and to other dealership owners throughout Southern California, and they are relieved that public safety concerns are being taken seriously.

A History of Conflict

According to Hogan, issues between his dealerships and Toyota can be traced back to 2011, when Hogan began to promote a software program that aimed to spread consumer awareness of recalls made by Toyota. The system, called Autovation, notified customers when they needed to bring their vehicles in for recall repairs. However, instead of viewing Autovation as a public service (as Hogan proclaimed it to be), Toyota claimed it was simply a marketing devices that relied on unauthorized data mining from Toyota’s website. Hogan alleged that Toyota began to take retaliatory action against his dealerships, primarily by failing to provide an adequate number of popular SUV and truck models that consumers favored. According to an academic expert, whose testimony was included during the trial, Toyota’s action cost Hogan millions in lost revenue.

What the Jury Found

The jury’s decision was based on their belief that Toyota had hidden important facts from the dealerships, interfered with them, and, ultimately, harmed them. However, the jury made it clear that they did not believe that Toyota took these actions out of malice or with intent, so Toyota was not found guilty of fraud. Overall, the jury was made sympathetic to Hogan’s claims that Toyota failed to properly fix their widespread issue with failing inverters—Hogan repeatedly called on Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to examine whether Toyota’s proposed software repair actually addressed the issue. The jury’s decision clearly illustrates their support of consumer advocates like Hogan who repeatedly fight for consumer safety.

Ready to Fight for Your Consumer Rights

Lemon Law Partners, LLP is committed to standing up to manufacturers and dealerships who have failed to provide you with a safe and reliable vehicle. If you believe you have been sold a lemon in California, call (510) 944-0336 today to arrange a free evaluation of your case.