Toyota Motor Corporation has settled a lawsuit with the Saylor and Lastrella families that resulted in four deaths in August of 2009. The accident called attention to floor mat entrapment, a safety issue that eventually led to recalls of millions of Toyota and Lexus products globally.
It also prompted multiple Congressional investigations and a record fine against Toyota imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hundreds of lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration or floor mat entrapment are now part of a huge class action matter in Southern California. Toyota has moved to dismiss all the claims alleging unintended acceleration, saying no evidence has been presented of an electronic problem. It’s a long-term strategy, which could save it millions upon millions in litigation.
On August 28, 2009, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family died in a high speed accident on a highway near San Diego, California, while driving a 2009 Lexus ES350 lent to them by a local dealer. Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala died, along with Cleofe Saylor’s brother, Chris Lastrella, 39, when Saylor was unable to stop the sedan.
In a statement released after a Los Angeles Times story on the settlement, Toyota said:
“Through mutual respect and cooperation, Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached an amicable agreement in mediation that fully resolves these claims without the need for litigation. We felt that was important for Toyota, the dealer and the families.”