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Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Class Action – Settlement Off, New Negotiations Underway?

Current or former owners of certain 2019, 2020, and 2021 RAV4 Hybrid vehicles need to pay close attention to their rights.

The plaintiffs in several class action lawsuits allege that Toyota advertises the fuel tank in certain 2019, 2020, and 2021 RAV4 Hybrid vehicles, a crossover SUV, as having a capacity of 14.5 gallons and a range of 580 miles. But even when nearly empty, owners cannot add over approximately 10 gallons of fuel before the automatic shut-off engages and stops the pump from filling the tank further.

Current or former owners should know that California’s lemon law and other state and federal laws may force Toyota to “buy the vehicle back” or provide further meaningful compensation for those experiencing this defect.

For a free lemon law consultation fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

Under California’s lemon law, qualifying “lemons” must be repurchased, which can mean a large cash refund and payoff of your loan or lease. The refund could be as much as everything you paid for the vehicle and everything you owe: monthly payments, down payments, tax, finance charges, license, registration, etc. You could even qualify for two times your money back.

What Toyota would have to buy it for has nothing to do with its current worth. There is a formula in the law that starts with you getting all your money back and then taking certain deductions and exclusions away from your payment. Those refunds and exclusions are difficult to understand and can be fought against by knowledgeable consumer attorneys.

Watch the mail, watch your email, and contact a consumer lawyer for advice.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Class Action Lawsuits

Pulkrabek, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales, Case No. 2:20-cv-00036-JRG-RSP, was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on February 13, 2020. Plaintiffs brought it on behalf of a class of owners and lessees of certain 2019, 2020, and 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vehicles and 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles. While the parties had previously announced a settlement of that case, on February 4, 2022, the parties requested the action be dismissed. The court granted the request and ordered the case dismissed on February 8, 2022.

In addition, In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation, 3:20-cv-00337-EMC, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on January 15, 2020. In Re Toyota Rav4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation was brought by a different group of plaintiffs on behalf of a class of owners and lessees of certain 2019, 2020, and 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vehicles and 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles but challenging the actual fuel capacity of these vehicles.

The class action lawsuits were brought on behalf of residents of certain states under the laws of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

That action is currently in settlement negotiations, according to the parties, and is set for a status conference in early May where the parties are to provide an update on the status of settlement discussions.

You may soon have the option of participating in a settlement or bringing your own claim and “opting out” of that settlement or the litigation.

We are available to help you sort through these questions and make an informed decision.

For a free lemon law consultation fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

Status of the RAV4 Class Action Litigation

In Pulkrabek, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales, the court denied Toyota’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended complaint on March 30, 2021. On February 4, 2022, the parties stipulated to dismiss that class action lawsuit.

Rav4 class action lawsuits

In In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation, the court granted consolidation of cases and appointed interim class counsel on August 13, 2020. The court granted and partly denied Toyota’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ consolidated complaint in April 2021. On August 6, 2021, Toyota filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint, which was filed on June 9, 2021. The court ruled on the Motion to Dismiss on December 10, 2021, dismissing some claims and granting Plaintiffs leave to amend to address specific issues, such as the effectiveness of Toyota’s voluntary repair program and their requests for injunctive relief.

In a stipulation filed with the court on January 5, 2022, the parties stated they were in active settlement discussions. The Court was to hold another status conference on March 8, 2022 for an update on the parties’ settlement negotiations, but based on the parties’ continuing discussions, at the parties’ request the Court continued the status conference until May 3, 2022. The parties are to file a report on April 26, 2022 giving the Court an update on the status of their settlement negotiations. Discovery has not been completed and no trial date has been set in either case.

For a free lemon law consultation, fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

What are Your Options as a Class Member in a Class Action Settlement?

If the class is certified by the court in a class-action lawsuit, the lawyers who bring the class action represent you. You will receive notice if the court approves the case to proceed as a class action and your right to opt-out of the class by a specific deadline. If they prevail, you receive whatever relief is awarded by the judge or jury. But if they lose, you may not litigate claims over the issues raised. As with most litigation, the vast majority of class action cases settle.

If the court preliminarily approves a settlement, you will receive a class notice describing your options. Those options will be: (a) do nothing, in which case you may get nothing but be bound by the settlement, (b) submit a claim form if requested and get whatever relief is provided, and the settlement also binds you, or (c) opt-out and pursue your own claims, in which case you are not bound by the settlement but cannot participate in the relief being offered to class members.

A class action settlement may provide significant benefits for many people and require little effort to participate. It also comes with no risk, as the claims have been resolved. But for others, particularly where they may have had significant damages, opting out and pursuing individual claims may provide them an opportunity to receive a better recovery in a shorter time, but with no guarantee, they will get anything in a settlement.

rav4 fuel tank lawsuitsWith vehicles, what to do can be a complicated decision, as it can depend on many factors. These factors include:

  • How old is your car?
  • Has the defect occurred in your car?
  • Have you taken it in for repairs on more than one occasion?
  • Do you still own the car?
  • Is the vehicle still under warranty?
  • Where do you live?

Are you willing to consider the opportunity of getting a more significant recovery as compared to taking what is offered in the settlement?

We are available to help you sort through these questions and make an informed decision.

For a free lemon law consultation fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Class Action FAQ

When and where were the RAV4 class-action lawsuits filed?

Pulkrabek, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales, Case No. 2:20-cv-00036-JRG-RSP, was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on February 13, 2020. While the parties in that case had announced they had entered into a class-wide settlement, this lawsuit has now been dismissed.

In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation, 3:20-cv-00337-EMC, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on January 15, 2020. This case is still pending and has not been settled but is in active settlement negotiations according to the parties. The parties are to file an update on their negotiations on April 26, 2022. We will update this article when we have further information and an update on the status of these negotiations.

What do consumers allege in the RAV4 hybrid class action lawsuits?

The plaintiffs in both cases alleged that Toyota advertises the fuel tank in RAV4 Hybrid vehicles, a crossover SUV, as having a capacity of 14.5 gallons and a range of 580 miles. But even when nearly empty, owners cannot add over 10 gallons of fuel before the automatic shut-off engages and stops the pump from filling the tank further. Defendants further represented the RAV4 Hybrid to have an average 41/38/40 mpg rating (city/highway/combined).

The driving range is a significant factor for these vehicles, and the RAV4 Hybrid should have a driving range between 551 and 594 miles on a full tank based on Toyota’s representations as to the expected range. Because of this defect, the range is less than between 330 and 480 miles and has a lower fuel capacity than the gas-only versions.

What are the affected Toyota RAV4 models in the class action lawsuits?

In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation was brought by plaintiffs on behalf of a class of owners and lessees of certain 2019, 2020, and 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vehicles and 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles, under the laws of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

How many RAV4 vehicles are affected by this alleged defect?

According to publicly available data, the total number of Class Vehicles sold is approximately 186,000 vehicles.

What do the class action lawsuits claim caused the fuel tank defect?

Plaintiffs allege that Automotive News reported in 2020 that when Toyota redesigned the RAV4 for the 2019 model year, Toyota changed the design of its fuel tank from “a longitudinal 14.8-gallon tank roughly shaped like a Native American papoose to a latitudinal, saddle-shaped design with 14.5-gallon capacity, according to parts diagrams” to accommodate the location of the electric motor’s battery. The defect of the redesigned fuel tank causes the affected vehicles to have a markedly lower driving range than designed.

rav4 lawsuitsPlaintiffs claim that Toyota knew of the defect. In a statement to Automotive News, Toyota confirmed that it is “investigating a fuel tank shape issue on certain RAV4 Hybrid vehicles. In these cases, variations in fuel tank shape may prevent a full refill by up to several gallons. This condition may affect the vehicle’s total available driving distance. As a best practice, customers should refuel before or when the low fuel light illuminates, to prevent running out of fuel.” Toyota dealers similarly reported to Automotive News that “they were aware of the issue.”

The defect of the redesigned fuel tank causes the affected vehicles to have a driving range markedly lower than designed and diminished value.

For a free lemon law consultation, fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

Does the alleged fuel tank defect violate the RAV4 vehicle warranty?

Toyota provides RAV4 purchasers with an express warranty, including a “New Vehicle Limited Warranty” for 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first. The New Vehicle Limited Warranty covers “repairs and adjustments needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship of any part supplied by Toyota.

The Federal Emissions Control Warranty covers the fuel tank for the RAV4 Hybrid. The Plaintiffs allege that Toyota evades its warranty obligations by claiming that the defect is not a defect but a normal operating condition. Based on that position, it declines any warranty coverage to bring the Subject Vehicles in line with Toyota’s representations regarding the fuel tank capacity.

What has Toyota done to resolve the alleged fuel tank defect?

Due to the issues with the fuel tank, Toyota announced a Customer Support Program (the “CSP”) for specific 2019 – 2020 Model Year RAV4 HV (CSP 20TE04) and certain 2020 Model Year RAV HV (CSP 20TE05). However, this remedy applies only to RAV4s that accept 12 gallons or less TOTAL, and only 9.8 once the fuel gauge indicated empty. Notably, owners have complained this does not resolve their fueling and traveling mileage issues.

Are RAV4 vehicles with the fuel tank defect unsafe?

Any car that gives an inaccurate fuel reading, and where Toyota advises that customers “should refuel before or when the low fuel light illuminates, to prevent running out of fuel,” may be considered unsafe.

For a free lemon law consultation, fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

What is the status of the class action lawsuits?

In Pulkrabek, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales, the court denied Toyota’s motion to Dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended complaint on March 30, 2021.

The parties stipulated to Plaintiffs filing a Second Amended Complaint on June 17, 2021, and a motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement was filed on June 21, 2021. However, despite the pendency of that motion, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of that class action on February 4, 2022. It has now been dismissed by the court.

In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation, the other class action lawsuit, the court granted consolidation of cases and appointed interim class counsel on August 13, 2020. Toyota has filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint, which was filed on June 9, 2021.

The court ruled on the Motion to Dismiss on December 10, 2021, dismissing some claims and granting Plaintiffs leave to amend to address specific issues, such as the effectiveness of Toyota’s voluntary repair program and their requests for injunctive relief.

The Court was to hold a status conference on March 8, 2022 for an update on the parties’ settlement negotiations but based on the parties’ continuing discussions, at the parties’ request the Court continued the status conference until May 3, 2022. The parties are to file an update on their settlement negotiations on April 26, 2022. We will update this article when we have further updates. Discovery has not been completed and no trial date has been set in either case.

Have the RAV4 hybrid class action lawsuits been settled?

The Pulkrabek lawsuit has recently been dismissed by agreement of the parties, with no class-wide settlement.

The In Re Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Litigation has not been resolved. This class action lawsuit is still pending and has not been settled, but is in active settlement negotiations according to the parties.

The parties are to file with the Court an update on their settlement negotiations on April 26, 2022.

Is there anything I need to do now?

If the parties agree to a settlement and the court grants preliminary approval of a class action settlement, which we should know more about in early May 2022, you will receive notice of the proposed settlement. After you receive notice, you will need to select whether to participate in the settlement or opt out of the settlement. The notice of this settlement will list your deadlines to act.

If the court does not preliminarily approve a settlement, there is nothing for you to do.

At this point, if you want to bring your own claim, you can do so now and opt-out when you receive notice. Or the class will be defined as those people who have not sued or settled their claims, and you will be automatically opted out of the settlement.

To discuss your options with us, please call us at (855) OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

What happens if I don’t opt out of the class action lawsuit or settlement?

It depends on how the settlement is structured, but generally, you will be bound by its terms if you do not opt out of the settlement. You will receive any benefits offered in the settlement, either automatically or by submitting a claim form. However, you cannot bring any individual claim for damages caused by the defect, except possibly for personal injury claims.

For a free lemon law consultation fill out the form below or call us at 1-855-OPT-OUT1 (855-678-6881).

Why opt out of any certified class action lawsuit or settlement?

For many people, a class action provides them significant benefits without the need to spend any money or do much other than complete a claim form. And because the matter is settled, if the court approves the settlement, you will get the relief described in the class notice.

However, other people may decide that the relief offered as part of the class action settlement is inadequate, that they do not want to wait to get relief, or that they think they will get more if they do not participate in the class action settlement. This depends on a variety of factors, such as how old is your car, can you document the defect that occurred in your car, have you taken it in for repairs on more than one occasion, do you still own the vehicle, is it still under warranty and where do you live. Depending on the answers to those questions, while there is no guarantee you will receive any recovery, if you opt-out, you may have the opportunity to receive significant relief, including a vehicle repurchase and penalties.

What is the Song-Beverly Warranty Act?

The Song-Beverly Warranty Act, California Civil Code §1793.2(d)(1), is a California state law that requires manufacturers to repair defects after a reasonable number of repair attempts. What is “reasonable” is not part of hard and fast rules – safety defects should be fixed immediately, for example. The defects must be significant, and must “substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.” Civil Code §1793.22(e)(2). Under Civil Code §1793.2(d)(1), manufacturers must promptly offer repurchase or replacement of the vehicle they cannot fix in a reasonable time frame. In addition, Civil Code §1794(c) and §1793.2(d) provide that customers may have a civil penalty up to two times actual damages if manufacturers acted “willfully” (meaning knowingly but not necessarily with wrongful or malicious intent) in ignoring or failing its obligation under Song-Beverly.

Finally, under Civil Code §1794(d), manufacturers must pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs as part of the settlement. The Song-Beverly Act is a pro-consumer fee-shifting statute.

May I have additional rights if I am an Armed Forces member?

Under Cal. Civil Code 1795.8, if a person is a member of the Armed Forces, the protections of the Song-Beverly Act may apply, even if you purchased your vehicle outside of California, so long as the manufacturer sells cars in California. The Armed Forces member would need to show they were stationed in or a resident of California when they purchased the vehicle or when they filed a claim against the manufacturer.

What relief could I get if I opt out and bring an individual lemon law lawsuit?

handing keys over to carCurrent or former owners should be aware that the California lemon law and other state and federal laws may force Toyota to “buy the vehicle back,” or provide other important compensation. Under California’s lemon law, qualifying “lemons” must be bought back, which can mean a large cash refund and payoff of your loan or lease. The refund could be as much as everything you paid for the vehicle and everything you owe: monthly payments, down payments, tax, finance charges, license, registration, etc. You could even qualify for two times your money back.

What Toyota would have to buy it for has nothing to do with its current worth. There is a formula in the law that starts with you getting all your money back and then taking certain deductions and exclusions away from your payment. Those refunds and exclusions are difficult to understand and can be fought against by knowledgeable consumer attorneys. Don’t settle for small-dollar payments or more possible fixes without speaking to a qualified consumer attorney with your individual best interest in mind. Watch the mail, watch your email, and contact a consumer lawyer for advice when and if the case settles.

Free Lemon Law Consultation

There is a lot to consider in deciding whether to pursue an individual lemon law claim.

The Hanson Law Firm is available to help you sort through these questions and make an informed decision.

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