BOSTON, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The ATAC (Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium), a federation of consumer law firms filing lawsuits against Toyota across the nation, has grown to 22 law firms in 16 states, with more states being planned.
ATAC also announced that a court hearing on consolidation of the national litigation is expected to be heard before a multidistrict panel in U.S. District Court in San Diego on March 25, 2010.
The ATAC effort is coordinated by Dr. P. Tim Howard, a Professor of Law and Policy at Northeastern University, who is known for his national legal work in consumer law cases. Howard coordinated the legal team in the Florida tobacco lawsuit in the 1990s that led to a $20 billion settlement with the State of Florida and a national settlement of $250 billion, and is currently co-counsel representing 3,600 victims of cigarette-related diseases in Florida.
Toyota owners nationwide have seen the value of their vehicles plummet as a result of avoidable problems with a wide range of Toyota models. Toyota owners have also lost the use of their vehicles for significant periods of time. Published reports indicate Toyota officials knew about the problems as early as 2004, yet news coverage also indicates that rather than putting American consumers first, Toyota avoided addressing problems, destroyed and hid documents, and continued to pocket billions of American consumer's dollars by falsely selling Toyota vehicles as the "quality" choice.
"This is the strongest and largest case for economic damages to American consumers we've ever had," said Dr. Howard, who also practices consumer law at Howard & Associates in Tallahassee, Florida. "Major used-car valuation services like Edmonds, NADA, and Kelley Blue Book have already downgraded resale value by as much as 3.5%, and consumers can expect an additional decrease up to 6%. As a result, Toyota owners have been robbed of their investment, along with their ability to trade in these vehicles rather than submit to hasty and questionable repairs. In the meantime, they have also lost the use of their car. That's economic damage, plain and simple."
"Toyota owners thought they were buying quality. Instead, they got a car so defective it could lead to their death," Dr. Howard added.
Along with fellow Florida attorneys, Howard filed one of the consortium's first lawsuits for $1 billion in damages in Florida on February 4, 2010.
In addition to Dr. Howard, key members of the ATAC team include Stephen A. Sheller and Brian J. McCormick, Jr., of Sheller, P.C., in Philadelphia, who have already filed a case in Pennsylvania and will file a case in New Jersey immediately. Sheller, who also led many of the tobacco cases in recent years, is among the best-known attorneys in the nation in the area of whistleblower cases – in 2009 alone, his firm represented the plaintiffs in separate settlements of $1.4 billion against Eli Lilly and $2.3 billion against Pfizer.
In California, ATAC is led by Larry Gornick of Levin Simes Kaiser & Gornick in San Francisco. Gornick is well known for his work involving defective products, toxic torts, unfair business practices and false advertising. The team is also working with several prominent firms in Los Angeles that have filed previous Toyota class actions.
In New York, the litigation is led by attorney James F. Haggerty, who is also among the nation's leading experts on effective public relations during lawsuits. Haggerty's involvement has a personal element: in early 2009, his mother-in-law was nearly killed in a crash involving a 2005 Toyota Camry, with sudden acceleration a suspected cause. The Washington Post reported this week (click here) that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) was informed of problems with the 2005 Camry in 2007; problems with this same model have also been reported in The New York Times (click here).
In addition to Toyota vehicles with problems related to sudden acceleration, the ATAC Team is now also preparing cases involving braking issues with the Toyota Prius – the subject of a recall announcement this week of nearly 500,000 cars worldwide.
A full list of consortium team members is below and growing.
HOWARD & ASSOCIATES, P.A.
8511 Bull Headley Rd.,
Tallahassee, FL 32312
8 Museum Way
Cambridge, MA 02115
Additional Member Firms
Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium (ATAC)
BOSTON, MA (February 10, 2010) – In addition to the firms mentioned in the press release, key members of the ATAC Team include the following:
- In Florida, the consortium is led by Dr. Howard and Norwood Wilner of Wilner Hartley & Metcalf. The Wilner firm is currently playing a key role in more than 3,600 tobacco disease and death cases in Florida. Other Florida lawyers joining effort include:
- Mike Papantonio, of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner & Proctor, P.A. of Pensacola, a firm that has won more than one billion dollars in total settlements. Papantonio's firm runs the successful "Mass Torts Made Perfect" series of seminars, training trial lawyers nationwide in advanced litigation strategies.
- Douglas Lyons of Lyons and Farrar of Tallahassee, who won one of the first sudden acceleration cases against General Motors more than 20 years ago.
- Eddie Farah, senior partner with Farah and Farah of Jacksonville, which has been involved in major product liability litigation nationally.
- John Rimes, of The Law Office of John Rimes of Tallahassee, who has 25 years experience as lead trial and appellate counsel and as general counsel to various departments and other entities of state government.
- Gary Farmer of Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. of Ft. Lauderdale.
- In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the consortium is led by Stephen A. Sheller and Brian J. McCormick, Jr., of Sheller, P.C., in Philadelphia, who have already filed a case in Pennsylvania and will shortly file in New Jersey. Sheller was a finalist for the 2003 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award "for discovering the light cigarette fraud and initiating the litigation strategy to remedy the deception." This innovative legal strategy resulted in a $10.1 billion verdict against Phillip Morris. The firm is among the best-known in the nation in the area of whistleblower cases – in 2009 alone, the firm represented the plaintiffs in separate settlements of $1.4 billion against Eli Lilly and $2.3 billion against Pfizer.
- In Massachusetts and Vermont, Edward Broderick of The Broderick Law Firm in Boston will lead the effort. Broderick has broad experience in complex litigation, including consumer and personal injury litigation. Broderick is joined by Dr. Richard Daynard, a well-known consumer law specialist and Director of the Tobacco Products Liability Project and the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University.
- In California, the consortium is led by Larry Gornick of Levin Simes Kaiser & Gornick in San Francisco. Gornick is well known for his work involving defective products, toxic torts, unfair business practices and false advertising.
- In New York, the litigation is led by attorney James F. Haggerty, who is also among the nation's leading experts on effective public relations during lawsuits.
- Working with the consortium in Las Vegas, Nevada, is Dennis Kennedy of Bailey Kennedy. Kennedy is a well known Nevada lawyer whose firm has a long reputation in "bet-the-company" commercial litigation.
- In Kansas and Missouri, Neil Sader of The Sader Law Firm, located in Kansas City, is an experienced Kansas City consumer attorney. Sader's Firm has successfully handled significant class actions in the areas of consumer law and securities violations against some of the largest corporations in America.
- In Maryland, Philip Zipin of The Law Offices of Phil Zipin leads the effort. Zipin has handled numerous lawsuits in the automotive industry in Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, California, Colorado and Virginia.
- Shawn Council in Connecticut has handled hundreds of cases in state and federal court and is an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University.
Other current consortium members, consultants, and states where actions are being prepared for filing include:
- John Hughes , Wallace & Graham, Salisbury, North Carolina
- Bryce Johnson, Johnson & Biscone, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Butch Starns and Blake Shepard, Leonard, Street and Deinard, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Henry Garrard III, Blasingame Burch Garrard & Ashley, P.C., Athens, Georgia
- Don Slavik, Habush, Habush, Rottier, S.C., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
SOURCE Attorneys Toyota Action Consortium