Chances are if you purchased a new or used Toyota on the "recall list" you may be wondering, "Do I have a claim against both Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and the dealer who sold me my car?" Depending on whether you were in an accident caused by the defect or had to surrender the vehicle pursuant to the recall will influence the classification of your cause of action and damages. The former can involve more serious litigation, especially if there were physical injuries involved, while the latter can vary in light of the facts of your case.
Theoretically, you could have a claim against both Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and your dealer -again, depending on the facts of your case - under a cause pertaining to either a product liability and/or strict liability case. Another cause could arise out of a misrepresentation made by your dealer regarding the warranties of merchantability, i.e. stating that the Toyota car is fully operational in terms of its driveability and safety features when knowing this to be a false statement of fact. Some states will even hold for a negligent misrepresentation case where the maker of the false statement should have known that the statement was false and failed to exercise a duty of care owed to consumers - dealers are obligated to inspect and perform their due diligence on vehicles prior to sale.
What begs the question regarding the many Toyota dealers who sold defective units is how they could have not known about the safety issues and defects after observing a pattern of consumer complaints and requests for either repairs or replacement automobiles? The next question for many has been should I sue my Toyota dealer? Absent a death or serious injury that resulted from the defect whereas a lawsuit in these instances may be the best option so as to recover the full extent of damages, one ought to consider mediation over filing a lawsuit. Most consumer contracts, in any event, hold that the dealer and purchaser are to resolve any disputes through what is called alternative dispute resolution (carefully read the terms of your agreement for an arbitration clause). The reason for choosing mediation over traditional litigation means is in large part because of its efficiency and lower costs to achieving a resolution as opposed to the time-table of the courthouse docket where it could take many months to see any meaningful results or even a settlement.
In addition to being faster and more cost-effective, mediation also helps reduce enmity between the parties who may want to continue to have a professional or business relationship - let's face it, many bought from a friend or relative working at a Toyota dealer. Moreover, mediation can be done with a mediator who has significant experience dealing with consumer or auto related issues as opposed to a lawyer-judge who may have a limited understanding of the practical matters based on their background. So, notwithstanding any impulses to hire an attorney and sue outright it is a good idea to explore mediation and alternative dispute resolution over taking your complaint directly to the courthouse.