SAN DIEGO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. won approval to proceed with its appeal of a judge's ruling that allowed plaintiffs who hadn't had problems with sudden unintended acceleration of their vehicles to seek economic damages for the alleged defect.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, in a Nov. 15 order, granted Toyota permission to appeal the decision by the federal judge who oversees the consolidated lawsuits that were brought against the carmaker following a series of recalls starting in 2009.
U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California, said in July that Toyota could immediately challenge part of his May decision rejecting the company's bid to dismiss the suits. Toyota could seek to appeal his ruling granting "standing," or the right to sue, to certain vehicle owners, Selna said.
The appeal would focus on the issue "of whether each plaintiff must allege that he or she has experienced a manifestation of the product's alleged defect in order to allege that he or she suffered an injury," Selna said at the time. "An immediate appeal" of the standing ruling "will materially advance the ultimate termination of this litigation," he said.
The Toyota owners contend the company drove down the value of their vehicles by failing to disclose or fix defects related to sudden acceleration. Selna said in May that car owners who hadn't experienced incidents had met pleading standards to claim losses.
Celeste Migliore, a spokeswoman for Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., said in an e-mailed statement that the carmaker looked forward to presenting its arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
"We firmly believe that individuals whose Toyota vehicles have operated every day without incident do not have standing under the U.S. Constitution to seek money damages from Toyota in federal court," she said. "This common sense proposition is backed by extensive case law."
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn't immediately return a call to his office Wednesday seeking comment on the ruling.