A Massachusetts man has filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota accusing the company of violating warranty and consumer protection laws. The Plaintiff alleges the soy-based wiring insulation Toyota used in its vehicles attracted rodents and pests that caused extensive damage. The company has refused to cover the damage under warranty, according to the lawsuit.
In December 2016, lead plaintiff Roy Roscoe brought his 2012 Toyota Sequoia to a dealership to repair the rodent-related damage. He was told that the extensive damage caused by the mice was considered an “outside source of damage to the car,” even though the dealership retained their own mouse exterminator on-site. Toyota claimed the damage was not covered under the New Vehicle Limited Warranty issued with the purchase or lease of the car or the Toyota Extended Warranty “Vehicle Service Agreement” that Roscoe purchased at an extra cost.
Roscoe’s was not the only complaint about rodents destroying the electrical wiring of the vehicle. Multiple other consumers filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), complaining that pests were chewing through the soy-based elements of the car. Roscoe argues that the NHTSA complaints, news reports, and Toyota’s own log of customer complaints provides sufficient evidence that the company was aware of the issue but still “routinely refused” to fix it.
The lawsuit to the plant based aspect of the wiring casing as the culprit. “The environmentally friendly and less expensive soy-based coating is the problem,” it argues. “While Class Vehicles are essentially being attacked by rodents and other animals, older vehicles with non-soy-based insulated wires that are exposed to similar conditions do not experience rodent-caused damage.”
“Historically, automobile wiring was coated or covered with a glass, plastic or polymer-based insulation,” the lawsuit explains. “However, over the past decade or so, and especially in light of the skyrocketing oil prices in the mid-to-late 2000s, there has been a dramatic downshifting in automotive manufacturing which has spurred automobile manufacturers to explore new materials to decrease cost and make more parts recyclable.”
Roscoe is suing for breach of warranty, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, violations under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, and violation of Massachusetts consumer protection laws. He is seeking a minimum of $17,405.36 in damages to cover the costs of repairs to his car and the cost of a rental car he used while his car was being fixed.
The affected models include:
2012-2016 Camry Hybrid
2014 FJ Cruiser
2009, 2012, 2015 Highlander
2012-2015 Prius C
2014-2-16 Scion TC
2010, 2013 Venza Ltd.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Roscoe and anyone else in the state of Massachusetts who owns or leases one of the 17 affected Toyota models. It is estimated that this could include “many thousand[s]” of class members. The case is represented by attorneys Jeffrey S. Morneau and Andrea S. Harrington of Connor Morneau & Olin LLP.
The suit was filed on November 27, 2017 and is Ray Roscoe v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-12332, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.