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Orange County sues Toyota. Can automaker get a fair trial?

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AP Photo/The Journal News, Carucha L. Meuse

(Read caption) A Toyota 2005 Prius sits behind the police station in Harrison, N.Y., after it was involved in an accident March 9. The driver escaped serious injury but told police that the car accelerated on its own. A prosecutor in Orange Country, Calif., is planning to sue Toyota to force the company to stop selling "defective" vehicles.

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Add one more lawsuit to the burgeoning legal woes of Toyota Motors.

Orange County, Calif., is suing the automaker to prohibit it from "continuing to endanger the public through the sale of defective vehicles and deceptive business practices."

Toyota already faces a federal criminal investigation, an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and at least 89 class-action suits.
Faced with all that, can the Japanese company get a fair trial in US courts?

History says no. American justice doesn't appear so impartial when dealing with foreign companies.

"A foreign firm ... tends to lose more often in US courts than comparable US firms," says Utpal Bhattacharya, a finance professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and coauthor of a 2006 study on the subject.


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