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Toyota Settles Fatal Accident Suit That Triggered Recalls

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On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 11:36AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Settles Fatal Accident Suit That Triggered Recalls

The newest development in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration Saga is that Toyota Motor Corporation has settled the original lawsuit brought against the Japanese automaker regarding an accident that resulted from alleged sudden acceleration.

The suit pertains to the death of four people killed in a San Diego accident, which was the impetus for Toyota to initiate the recall of millions of vehicles pertaining to sudden acceleration.

Toyota was quoted in an email statement: “Through mutual respect and cooperation we were able to resolve this matter without the need for litigation.” Toyota refused to disclose details regarding the terms of the settlement.

In February, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Co., apologized in a statement to Congress. Toyoda also apologized to Mark Saylor’s family, the California Highway Patrol officer who was killed along with his family-wife, daughter, and brother-in-law. The accident resulted from a Lexus that reportedly sped out of control. When federal investigators examined the Lexus they discovered that misplaced floor mats were the most likely cause of the accident.

The fatal San Diego accident occurred in August of 2009 in a loaner Lexus ES 350 that Saylor received from the Lexus dealership. After the accident Toyota announced on September 30th, 2009 that the company would issue the biggest recall in United States history, involving 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus cars and SUVs. The first Toyota recall related to unintended acceleration involved vehicles that were considered a potential hazard as a result of faulty floor mats that could “slip out of place and jam gas pedals,” according to a recent Bloomberg news report.

In a conference with the United States House Committee in February of 2009 Toyoda stated: “Especially, I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the accident in San Diego.” Toyoda also said, “I would like to send my prayers again, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.”

Since that first fatal accident in San Diego, Toyota has recalled approximately 8 million vehicles world-wide for issues related to unintended acceleration. In the lawsuits resulting from accidents, plaintiffs' lawyers claim that recalled Toyota vehicles have defective electronic throttle systems. Toyota has denied all along that electronics were involved, and federal regulators were unable to find any evidence that would support plaintiff’s claims.

There are 89 deaths associated with unintended acceleration reported to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2000.


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