Consumers accusing Toyota and a regional distributor of concealing allegedly defective air-conditioning systems in certain Camry models asked a Florida federal judge to certify their case as a class action, but the companies said proposed class guidelines are overly broad and would mire the court in members’ individual issues.
Counsel for plaintiffs Javier Cardenas, Michelle Monge and Rodney Baker told U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis said that they have made a concerted effort to focus their class definition, narrowing it to buyers of 2012-14 model year nonhybrid Camrys in the five states serviced by defendant Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC and a subclass of Florida buyers.
Their remaining claims are brought under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and only one state law, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The suit, originally filed in July 2018, alleges that Toyota Motor Corp. and its subsidiaries conspired with Southeast Toyota, or SET, to sell Camrys that were equipped with defective heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that retained moisture, leading to the growth of bacteria, mold and fungi that sometimes resulted in foul, noxious and toxic odors being emitted into the passenger compartments.
Troutner said the case is built around common questions of whether there is a design defect in the HVAC systems of the class vehicles, whether the defendants engaged in a scheme to conceal the defects, and whether class members suffered injury by overpaying for vehicles containing a concealed defect.
The companies said they would want to look into details of each plaintiff’s decision to purchase a Camry and who paid for the cars; what experience they had with their Camry, including whether they actually smelled any odors from their HVAC systems; and what information they received about the odor issues, if any, from Toyota or SET.