First trial over Toyota sudden acceleration is underway

Article by Anita Panait, on August 9, 2013

The first jury trial stemming from a lawsuit claiming that Toyota Motor Corp. is responsible for unintended acceleration in a woman's 2006 Camry that lead to her death in now underway in a state court in Los Angeles, California. Opening statements were scheduled to commence as early as August 7, 2013. Jury selection began July 22, 2013.

The bellwether lawsuit could set a precedent for a number of cases over alleged sudden acceleration by Toyota units. The woman, Noriko Uno, died in an accident in August 2009 after her Camry suddenly accelerated to around 100 mph, causing her to crash into a telephone pole and a tree.

Her husband Yasuharu and son Jeffrey claim that the crash was not a result of driver error, and that it could have been prevented only if a brake override system was installed in the Camry. A brake-override system could prevent sudden acceleration if the brake and accelerator pedals are pressed at the same time.

Garo Mardirossian, Uno family's lawyer, said in a court filing that Noriko’s fifth-generation Camry had the most reported unintended-acceleration claims. Mardirossian wrote in the filing that Toyota knew about unintended-acceleration in the 2006 Camry but did nothing to provide a remedy. He added that instead, Toyota recalled and added brake override to the 2007 Camry, but did left Uno’s unit “unsafe and without brake override."

Due to allegations of unintended acceleration, Toyota was forced to recall over 10 million vehicles around in 2009 and 2010, saying it would fix sticky pedals that were getting stuck under floor mats. A US court last month gave final approval to a $1.63-billion settlement agreement between Toyota and US consumer-plaintiffs who claimed that the recall resulted to a decrease in their vehicles’ value.

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