SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A federal judge said Tuesday he will approve a plan to share information in the sprawling litigation involving alleged defects in some Toyota vehicles.
U.S. District Judge James Selna planned on signing an order Tuesday that would begin the first phase of discovery, in which attorneys for the plaintiffs and the Japanese automaker can begin exchanging documents and taking depositions.
The plan gives attorneys on both sides a 100-day window for the process.
"I believe the time is there and the tasks can be accomplished during that period," Selna said.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota Motor Corp. 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.
All of the federal cases have been consolidated in Selna's Orange County court.
Toyota has blamed faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals for the unintended acceleration. Some plaintiffs also claim that there is a defect with Toyota's electronic throttle control system, but Toyota denies that.
Plaintiffs' attorneys have asked to take testimony from witnesses in 21 categories, relating to the design and testing of Toyota's electronic throttle control system as well as information about devices that record data seconds before an air bag is deployed in a crash.
Plaintiffs' lawyers also will provide Toyota with fact sheets on their clients to the automaker for review.
The complex case is set up so that depositions and evidence handed over by Toyota in the consolidated federal case will be shared with attorneys, judges and plaintiffs suing the automaker in state courts nationwide. Such a system means witnesses won't have to be questioned multiple times, thereby speeding up litigation.
Mark Robinson, an attorney overseeing the personal injury cases against Toyota, said the automaker has turned over 200,000 pages of documents that had been given to federal and state authorities investigating the car manufacturer. Cari Dawson, Toyota's lead attorney from Atlanta, said the company will provide confidential documents, estimated to be some 250,000 pages, to the plaintiffs' lawyers by Monday.
The next court date is Sept. 20.