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Federal Panel Consolidates 200 Lawsuits Against Toyota

A federal judicial panel decided today that about 200 lawsuits against Toyota stemming from sudden acceleration and other issues will be consolidated and heard in the federal courthouse in Orange County.

The Federal Courts' Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation selected U.S. District Judge James V. Selna to preside over the cases.

Selna is expected to make hundreds of pretrial decisions, including whether the cases should be certified as classes, whether there will be bellwether trials and key rulings on the admissibility of expert testimony, attorneys said.

Last month in San Diego, the panel heard arguments from some 25 lawyers advocating 19 different potential jurisdictions to serve as the venue where the Toyota litigation should be consolidated.

Toyota, which has its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, requested that the cases be consolidated in the Central District of California -- which includes Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Some attorneys have argued that the recalling of more than 8 million Toyota vehicles has cost consumers billions of dollars in lost resale value.

The recalls were sparked by an Aug. 28 crash that killed an off-duty CHP officer and three members of his family when a Toyota-built Lexus shot out of control and crashed on state Route 125 in Santee.

Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles since November for problems including floor mats that get tangled with the gas pedal and gas pedals that stick, causing sudden acceleration.

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