Connecticut Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fitzsimmons, who served on the national executive committee, said settlement negotiations began in January 2010 and that there were four sets of meetings, with the most recent taking place in Washington D.C., when an agreement was reached in principle.
"What we typically try to do is work out the non-monetary provisions before we even start talking about money," Fitzsimmons said. "It's almost always more important to make sure any corrective action is worked out first before you start talking about an actual figure with the states. We were pretty intent to include somewhere in there that Toyota does a better job of sharing information."
Fitzsimmons said the committee viewed more than 100,000 Toyota documents during its investigation and negotiations. He said the smaller executive committee would report back to the larger group of 29 states about developments in the negotiations.
"It would be a bit unwieldy if every single conversation with Toyota included 29 states at the table," said Fitzsimmons, who was assisted by Phillip Rosario, head of the Consumer Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office.
As part of the settlement agreement, Toyota has agreed to work harder to ensure that its U.S. executives have timely access to corporate information, as well as the authority to fully participate in all decisions affecting the safe operation of Toyota vehicles advertised and sold in the United States.
Specifically, Toyota has agreed to post owners' manuals online in an effort to make sure vehicle information is easily accessible.
The company will also expand its rapid response teams, which respond within 24 hours to safety issues that are reported by customers. The teams draw from a group of 200 technical experts located across Toyota's North American operations.
Under the agreement, most of the $1.4 million Connecticut will receive from Toyota will be allocated to the state's general fund, Fitzsimmons said.
Christopher Reynolds, group vice president and general counsel of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., a division of Toyota Motor Corp., said in a prepared statement: "Resolving this inquiry is another step we are taking to turn the page on legacy issues from Toyota's past recalls in a way that benefits our customers. Immediately after this inquiry was launched in 2010, Toyota began cooperating fully with the attorneys general and implementing 'customer-first' initiatives to address their concerns and those of our customers."
In addition to the $48.8 million fine paid to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company agreed to pay $1.3 billion in December to resolve a nationwide class action alleging the company's advertising and marketing materials misled consumers about the safety of its vehicles.
The latest $29 million settlement does not involve California or New York, where hundreds of lawsuits are pending against Toyota over accidents attributed to sudden acceleration defects. Toyota also continues to negotiate individual cases, including an undisclosed settlement reached last month with the families of two people killed when their Toyota Camry slammed into a wall in Utah in 2010.