By Colin Bird on January 27, 2011
In a bizarre piece of news today, the recent settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Toyota and the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association could make you eligible for some cash, even if you bought a Chevy.
In 2003, several federal and state lawsuits alleged that Toyota (and other large automakers) conspired with CADA to prevent virtually identical new cars from being exported to the United States from Canada. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the prevention or hindrance of trade ultimately led to higher prices in the U.S. by denying consumers access to potentially cheaper cars from Canada. We're still unclear if these were decontented versions of the models tailored specifically for Canada where car prices are generally higher, currency fluctuations or other factors. You can read the details here.
Other automakers were named in the lawsuit, but they either filed bankruptcy protection (GM and Chrysler), or their federal cases were dismissed. Toyota and CADA denied any wrongdoing but settled the case for an estimated $37 million.
Some of that money is up for grabs to anyone who bought or leased any retail vehicle between Jan. 1, 2001, and April 30, 2003, from the automotive brands listed at the bottom of the post and only if you live in the following states listed at the bottom. (Like any civil settlement, there is a litany of reasons why you still might not be eligible, so please read the fine print.)
How much could you get? The lawyers who litigated the cases say they have collectively spent some $40 million but have agreed to take only 30% of the combined settlement. The 46 plaintiffs, who took time out of their lives to help litigate the lawsuit, will each get $750. The plaintiffs also tentatively agreed to donate up to $1 million of the proceeds to a non-profit group or governmental agency. If 10% of eligible claimants file for a payment, the administration costs alone could exceed $1 million.
The bottom line is that you probably wouldn’t get much. In fact, if your share of the settlement is less than $5, you won’t get anything at all.
Several states still have ongoing lawsuits, with California having one of the most active cases.
Eligible vehicle makes: