Statements by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

Remarks by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

Civil lawsuit against Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

March 12, 2010


It’s good to see you again.


Like all of you, I have been reading one headline after another, watching one television story after another, about run away Toyotas and sudden acceleration problems. Texas, San Diego, New York – new day, new place. 


I know that the federal government, through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, or “NHTSA,” has been trying to solve this problem for several years to no avail; Congress has begun their inquiry into the matter.


As these cases continue to pile up, I became increasingly uneasy, knowing that many thousands of California consumers have purchased defective Toyota vehicles.  I became increasingly concerned that Orange County consumers may be purchasing many more Toyotas without knowing the full facts.


I feel it is the duty of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to protect the public and our consumers from unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.  I feel it is our duty to make sure Toyota is not gaining an unfair business advantage over other car companies who are not doing what Toyota is doing. 


We demand to know – did Toyota, in their relentless quest to become the number one car maker in the United States, put profits over people? The People of the State of California and citizens of Orange County have the right to know. Toyota drivers have the right to know. Other drivers sharing the road with Toyotas have the right to know.  Other carmakers that follow the law have the right to know. 


The family of the late California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor has the right to know.   


This morning, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office with the assistance of the Robinson, Calganie & Robinson law firm filed an unfair business practices lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court.  This is the first lawsuit in the nation to bring a consumer protection lawsuit against Toyota. 


I am proud to get the assistance of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson law firm.  As you know, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has a long standing tradition of partnering with private entities for the benefit of the People. For example, we have a program called Trial Attorney Partnership and the Reserve District Attorney program where experienced attorneys volunteer as.  Since 2003, we have had over 80 attorneys volunteer over 160 months of time, saving the taxpayers $2 million.


You may remember that in 2002, we joined forces with the Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson law firm in taking action against giant international oil companies to clean up poison from ground water.