Lawsuit wants Toyota recall expanded

February 9, 2010 7:03:32 PM PST
There are growing concerns that the recent Toyota recalls have not gone far enough. A new lawsuit claims that more than 50 percent of the drivers who lodge safety complaints with the government are not covered by the recalls. A motion has been filed asking a district judge to expand the recall to 16 different models and all model years linked to sudden unintended acceleration. Such a ruling would be unprecedented.

Virginia Castillo thinks back to an incident five years ago when few had ever heard of the dangers of sudden unintended acceleration. She was pulling her Lexus RX 330 into a parking space when it lunged forward into a parked school van.

"It just accelerated as I was turning, I guess I hadn't turned completely and it just went right into the van, I had no control," she said.

Paperwork shows she took her car in to the dealership after the accident complaining her "car lunges/surges when slowing to a stop."

Toyota/Lexus inspected the vehicle and concluded it was "unable to verify" her complaint.

Toyota also inspected the same model vehicle belonging to another Bay Area woman involved in a similar accident Dec. 26. The carmaker has yet to release its findings on that accident.

The RX 330 is not among the cars currently being recalled by Toyota.

"The vast majority of these complaints of sudden acceleration didn't occur in those vehicles in the recall," Richard McCune said.

McCune says he has analyzed 1,200 complaints to the federal regulators complaining of sudden acceleration in Toyotas and Lexuses. He says fewer than 50 percent of the vehicles and model years are included in any of the three recalls.

He has filed for a preliminary injunction asking a district court judge to change that.

"The injunction, preliminary injunction, is we're asking the court to say look at what's happening, look at the numbers, look at most of these sudden acceleration vehicles did not fall under any of the recalls," McCune said.

McCune wants the recall expanded to all the models and years linked to unintended acceleration and he wants the brake override system put in all those models, not just the eight models covered in Toyota's recall.

That would be a solution Castillo would appreciate. She has blamed the accident on herself for five years, but then she saw 7 On Your Side's story about Renata Jabuka's car.

"I cried, because I always thought it was my fault and I realized it wasn't my fault," she said.

The motion for an injunction to expand the recall is scheduled to be heard on March 8. Toyota said it would not comment on pending litigation.

Written and produced by Randall Yip