SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Toyota Motor Corp. knew of at least six sudden acceleration incidents as early as 2003, including some that were verified by its own technicians and dealers, according to court documents filed Monday as part of sprawling litigation against the Japanese automaker.
The incidents were reported to Toyota and culled from thousands of pages of internal documents that were included in filings made in U.S. District Court in Orange County.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota in state and federal court after the automaker began recalling millions of vehicles because of acceleration problems in several models and brake glitches with the Prius hybrid.
Toyota has blamed faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals for the unintended acceleration. Some plaintiffs also claim Toyota's electronic throttle control system has a defect, but Toyota denies that allegation.
One of the new filings seeks class-action status for vehicle owners claiming the value of their cars has diminished because of alleged defects, while the other claims damages for motorists injured or killed in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration.
Specific information about the incidents, however, was barred from public view to protect customers' privacy and the complaints did not list the dates of problems or the year or the model of Toyota each on involved.
In a statement, Toyota said it looked forward to defending itself against the allegations.
"Toyota has identified two specific mechanical causes of potential unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles and has moved decisively to address these issues with effective and durable solutions," the statement said. "Toyota rejects claims that plaintiffs suffered economic damages because of the recent recalls."