Can Toyota Steer Clear of This Wave of Lawsuits?
When Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) grappled with an acceleration defect affecting millions of vehicles in 2009, the automaker faced its most troubling time in recent memory. Toyota continues to face lawsuits stemming from injuries and deaths related to its defective products, and following an important win in court, the company must brace for the next wave of litigation. Many millions of dollars are at stake.
Toyota did receive some positive news out of Los Angeles on Thursday. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, a jury acquitted Toyota of responsibility in a fatal 2009 crash involving a Camry driver. Noriko Uno, a California resident, died after her foot stuck on the accelerator after being hit by another car. According to the Times report, Uno drove into a telephone phone and tree, dying in the crash.
The jury found that the driver who originally struck Uno was responsible, and she now must pay Uno’s heirs $10 million in damages. This case was considered thin with respect to Toyota’s liability because of the actions of the person who struck Uno. Lawyers taking the case against Toyota argued the vehicle had no brake override, which could have stopped the car, and that Toyota was therefore to blame. However, the jury did not make that connection.