That incident led to the first of the maker’s big recalls for so-called sudden acceleration which, in turn, has led to hundreds of lawsuits and a series of record fines for the humbled Japanese automaker.
The August 2009 accident apparently occurred when the floor mat of a Lexus sedan driven by California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor jammed the accelerator pedal. The vehicle quickly raced out of control, reaching speeds as high as 120 mph before slamming into an SUV, careening off the road, down an embankment and then repeatedly rolling over before bursting into flames. Saylor, 45, was killed along with three members of his family.
Shortly afterwards, Toyota announced it would agree to recall millions of vehicles prone to having their floor mats jam under the accelerator pedal. The following January, the maker also agreed to recall millions more vehicles with potentially sticky accelerator pedals. But it has since been fined heavily for delaying those and various other safety-related recalls. (For more, Click Here.)
The payment with Saylor’s family was originally supposed to be kept secret – as often happens with out-of-court settlements – but was released to the Los Angeles Times by Larry Willis, a lawyer in Orange County, California, who is representing the dealership that loaned the Lexus to the police officer.
The dealership was also sued by the family but has yet to reach a settlement.