The plaintiffs' filing comes in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article published Saturday that reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was preventing the release of information showing that cases of so-called "runaway Toyotas" could be attributed to driver error. The Journal interviewed a former NHTSA official who alleged that electronic data from suspected Toyota sudden unintended acceleration cases revealed that the gas pedal, not the brake, was applied at the time of the accident, implying that the driver had mistakenly pushed on the wrong pedal.
However, in Monday's filing, plaintiffs' attorneys charged that "one of Toyota's strategies in responding to SUA complaints even to the present time was to blame any report of SUA on driver error."
"This is just another example showing that Toyota knew about sudden, unintended accelerations and the dangers it poses to their customers," said Steve Berman, one of the attorneys representing plaintiffs in the class action suit. "To say it's driver error, we believe, is completely reckless. We intend to prove that Toyota cars are defective and the automaker is at fault for diminished car values. It's time they come up with a fix or let drivers give back their defective cars."
When contacted by ABC News, Toyota would not comment on the documents that allegedly show the company's technicians and dealers confirming sudden acceleration incidents. In reference to the class-action lawsuit, however, a Toyota spokesperson said, "To date, plaintiffs have not cited a specific cause that would support their claim of a defect in Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System."
According to the spokesperson, "Toyota firmly believes that the system is completely safe and that reliable scientific evidence will demonstrate the safety of our vehicles in the investigations currently underway and, ultimately, to the court."