Bryan Cohen Feb. 15, 2013, 6:03pm

WASHINGTON, DC (Legal Newsline) - Toyota Motor Corporation and its related North American entities agreed to a $29 million multi-state settlement Thursday to resolve allegations that the company concealed safety issues.

Toyota agreed to pay $29 million to settle the consumer protection claims and agreed to provide additional incentives and restitution to vehicle owners to promote compliance with safety recalls related to unintended acceleration. Toyota will also be restricted from advertising the safety of vehicles without engineering data to support the claims.

"I am pleased that this settlement will protect consumers by requiring honest and effective disclosures of safety issues," Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said.

In addition to Alabama, other states and territories participating in the settlement include Wisconsin, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Ohio, North Carolina, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Colorado, Arkansas, Arizona and American Samoa.

The states alleged that Toyota engaged in deceptive and unfair practices when it failed to disclose known safety defects with accelerator pedals in a timely fashion. A complaint filed along with the settlement agreement alleged that poor communication between Toyota's headquarters in Japan and Toyota's United States holdings was responsible in part for the failure to report the known safety issues more quickly.

Under the terms of the settlement, Toyota will significantly change the safety culture within its United States operations, ensuring that U.S. officials have timely access to information and the authority to participate fully in decisions related to the safe operation of Toyota vehicles advertised and sold in the U.S.

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