SANTA ANA, CALIF.: A California judge said Friday that he’s finalizing a settlement worth more than $1 billion in cases where motorists say the value of their Toyota vehicles plunged after recalls over claims they unexpectedly accelerated.
U.S. District Judge James Selna said he was approving the deal that was announced in December and will affect 22 million consumers.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota since 2009, when the Japanese automaker started receiving numerous complaints that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths. More than 14 million vehicles have been recalled since the claims surfaced.
Toyota has denied the allegations, blaming driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.
Steve Berman, an attorney representing Toyota owners, has said the settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving automobile defects. He added that Selna called the deal extraordinary three times during a hearing Friday in Orange County.
An email message left for Toyota was not immediately returned. The company had previously said it will take a one-time, $1.1 billion pre-tax charge against earnings to cover the estimated costs of the settlement.
The cases were consolidated before Selna and divided into two categories: economic loss and wrongful death.