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Class action says rusty Toyota Tacomas are essentially worthless

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 8, 2014

FORT SMITH, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - An Arkansas man has filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota, claiming its 2005-2009 Tacoma trucks are prone to experiencing excessive rust corrosion.

The vehicles were manufactured with frames that lack adequate rust corrosion protection and, as a result, the frames are prone to experiencing excessive rust corrosion, rendering the vehicles unstable and unsafe to drive, according to the complaint.

The vehicles that experience excessive rust corrosion are essentially worthless, according to a complaint filed Oct. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

Ryan Burns claims Toyota has long known that the frames on its Tacoma vehicles lack adequate rust corrosion protection and, despite this knowledge, failed to disclose the existence of the defect to him and other class members at the time of sale, has not issued a recall to inspect and repair the vehicles and has not offered to reimburse owners for costs incurred to identify and repair the defect.

Earlier this year, Burns took his Tacoma in for service because the fan on the vehicle was coming into contact with the fan shroud, according to the suit.

"Shortly thereafter, plaintiff was informed that the frame on his Tacoma vehicle was rusted out and that the vehicle was unsafe to drive," the complaint states.

Burns claims he was advised that the frame on his 2005 Tacoma had severely rusted and that it would cost approximately $10,000 to repair.

"In... March 2008, after receiving numerous complaints that frames on approximately 813,000 model year 1995 to 2000 Tacoma vehicles had exhibited excessive rust corrosion, Toyota USA initiated a customer support program extending warranty coverage on the vehicles' frames for frame perforation caused by rust corrosion," the complaint states. "The program extended warranty coverage on concerned vehicles to 15 years with no mileage limitations."

Under the program, upon confirmation of perforation of the frame due to rust corrosion, Toyota would either repair or repurchase the vehicle, according to the suit.

Burns claims Toyota subsequently altered the customer support program to include 2001-2004 Tacoma models, with the exception that there was no buy-back option.

"In November 2012, Toyota USA recalled approximately 150,000 Tacoma vehicles to inspect and replace the spare-tire carrier on vehicles sold in 20 cold weather states," the complaint states. "The recall was issued to prevent the spare-tire carrier from rusting through and resulting in the spare tire dropping to the ground."

Burns claims Toyota violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and breached its express and implied warranty under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

"Toyota USA knew, or should have known, that the frames on...Toyota vehicles were not coated with adequate rust corrosion treatment," the complaint states.

As a result, Toyota has been unjustly enriched at the cost of class members whose vehicles were damaged, according to the suit.

Burns is seeking class certification, compensatory damages, an order requiring Toyota to repair or replace the frames on the Tacoma vehicles and pre- and post-judgment interest. He is represented by Phillip J. Milligan of Milligan Law Offices; Michael L. Roberts of Roberts Law Firm; and Ben Barnow and Erich P. Schork of Barnow & Associates PC.

The case was assigned to District Judge P.K. Holmes III.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas case number: 1:14-cv-02208

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.

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