Toyota “Sudden Acceleration” Case Begins in California

Should Toyota Motor Corporation be held liable for the sudden acceleration that drivers experienced in its vehicles? Drivers across the United States claimed that sudden acceleration in Toyota motor vehicles was a serious problem. As a result, Toyota issued a massive recall, and it dealt with significant settlements and lawsuits across the country. Now, a case is set to begin in southern California, according to NBC Los Angeles.

When consumers buy a product, they expect it to be safe. Consumers should never have to worry about product defects. When a motor vehicle is defective, however, it can cause serious harm to the driver and to other passengers. Toyota is one of many vehicle manufacturers who has faced product liability lawsuits over the past several years and has been forced to issue vehicle recalls as a result of defective parts.

Toyota Product Defect Litigation in California Court
Back in 2009, Noriko Uno, 66, was killed when her 2006 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated and went over a median before striking a telephone pole and a tree, according to the Los Angeles Times. Reports indicate that Uno had only put 10,000 miles on the vehicle at the time of the crash, and she had been a cautious driver who often avoided the freeway for safety reasons. However, due to a defect in her Toyota Camry, Uno’s car reached speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, and she was unable to slow the car even after “stepping on the brake pedal and pulling the emergency brake handle as she swerved to avoid other vehicles.”

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Uno’s case is the “first so-called ‘bellwether’ case to go to trial,” reported NBC Los Angeles. The case could set the tone for Toyota’s liability in these cases. And Uno’s family believes they will win the case. Their attorney, Garo Mardirossian, said that “Toyota decided to make safety an option instead of a standard on their vehicles.” And when “they decided to save a few bucks,” Toyota’s decision ended up costing lives.

Toyota argues that Uno’s Camry didn’t have a defect. According to CBS Local Los Angeles, the auto manufacturer has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion to resolve wrongful death claims and other lawsuits related to the sudden-acceleration problem. So far, all the claims against Toyota have resulted in settlements—the Uno claim is the first to reach the courtroom.

The Uno trial began jury selection late last month, and commentators expect the trial to last approximately two months. Why didn’t Toyota install a mechanism to override the accelerator when the gas and brake pedals are pressed simultaneously? A jury will be deciding whether this omission makes Toyota liable for Uno’s death, as well as for other wrongful deaths that have occurred due to sudden and unexpected acceleration in the manufacturer’s vehicles. As a so-called bellwether case, the outcome of the Uno trial is likely to influence trends in auto manufacturer liability for sudden-acceleration claims across the country.

Toyota Sudden-Acceleration Lawsuits Across the Country

With Uno’s trial likely to influence other claims across the country, Toyota might end up in courtrooms from Oklahoma to Michigan, where cases are expected to go to trial later this year. In fact, according to NBC Los Angeles, “there are more than 80 similar cases filed in state courts.”

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, it’s important to speak to an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers at the Walton Law Firm have extensive experience with product liability cases and can answer your questions today.

Photo Credit: Robbie Howell via Compfight cc

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