For several years, Toyota has been dealing with allegations that some of its vehicles had suddenly accelerated, causing accidents and deaths. It has recalled more than half a billion of vehicles and settled a number lawsuits. Now, the legal aftermath of the potential problem of sudden unintended acceleration continues.
A product liability trial is underway in Los Angeles to determine whether Toyota should be held responsible for sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The case involves a woman who was known as a careful driver who avoided freeways and took the same route every day to her family's sushi restaurant.
One day, her vehicle suddenly sped to speeds of 100 mph in a 30mph zone. The woman stepped on the brake and pulled the emergency handle, but she could not stop the car. She died when her vehicle hit a telephone and a tree.
The woman's family blames Toyota for her death. They have filed product liability lawsuit that seeks general and punitive damages. Toyota has said the vehicle contained no auto defects. In the past, it has blamed crashes on stuck accelerators, driver error and floor mats trapping the gas pedal.
The trial may focus on why the vehicle lacked equipment to override the accelerator if the brake and gas pedals are pressed at the same time. U.S. Camrys do not have this feature, but European models do.
The trial is one of more than 80 cases filed in state courts over sudden unintended acceleration claims. In addition to claims in state court, there is also federal court litigation over unintended acceleration in Toyotas.
Source: USAToday.com, "First Toyota sudden acceleration case to begin," Greg Risling, Associated Press, July 21, 2013