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Toyota Settles First of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

by on Jan.22, 2013

Toyota has begun to settle at least some wrongful injury and death claims rather than drag the fight out.

Toyota Motor Co. is pushing to settle a series of wrongful death lawsuits in which the plaintiffs appear to have a solid chance of proving to a jury that unintended acceleration-related design flaws contributed to the accidents.

The company maintains stuck floor mats and driver error are the reasons for vehicles unexpectedly surging out of control, while plaintiffs’ attorneys contend Toyota’s electronic throttle control system is to blame.

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In the first critical step, Toyota has elected to settle a wrongful death suit in Utah. The company said Thursday that it came to terms with the family of two people killed in a Utah crash that was set to go to trial next month and might have served as a test case for hundreds of other lawsuits that are pending.


Toyota Poised to Settle Injury and Death Lawsuits

Maker could put Unintended Acceleration issue behind.

by on Jan.16, 2013

Toyota may soon settle at least some wrongful injury and death claims rather than drag the fight out in court.

Toyota appears to be moving towards settling two high-profile unintended acceleration lawsuits in a bid to put the embarrassing issue to rest – and avoid having potentially damaging go before juries, according to a new report.

The maker announced a tentative, $1.2 billion settlement late last month with a group of owners who had sued alleging the unintended acceleration scandal had reduced the value of their vehicles. But that agreement – since given tentative approval by a federal job in Southern California – did not cover wrongful death and injury cases.

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At least some of those would be covered under a new settlement, said the Los Angeles Times, including two deaths in a horrific 2010 crash in Utah. The world’s largest automaker still faces more than 300 sudden acceleration lawsuits in state and federal courts.


Study Points Finger at Driver Error for Toyota’s Unintended Acceleration Problems

But 2-year review also suggests electronic issues may have played role.

by on Jan.18, 2012

Toyota's unintended acceleration problems likely weren't the result of electronic gremlins, says a new study.

A two-year study looking for possible causes behind Toyota’s rash of unintended acceleration issues has put primary blame on driver error – but the review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) also cautioned that some problems may have been caused by inadvertent interactions involving vehicle electronics – an issue frequently cited by the automaker’s critics.

Though there was no hard evidence of specific electronic defects, the 139-page report cautioned that “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”  Warning electronic faults may be “untraceable,” it calls for stricter government involvement in setting standards for the use of electronic control vehicle systems.

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The new report completes a series of studies set in motion by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which, in March 2010, asked both the NAS’s National Research Council, as well as NASA, to see why there were so many complaints about what the media was referring to as “runaway Toyotas.”


Seven Insurers Sue Toyota Over Sudden Acceleration Crashes

Further complications as maker's sales continue to tumble.

by on Jan.04, 2011

More troubles for Toyota.

Already facing a raft of lawsuits stemming out of its problems with runaway vehicles, Toyota has now been sued by seven insurance companies.

The insurers, which include such major names as Fireman’s Fund and Ameriprise, want to recover money they’ve had to pay out to clients involved in 14 accidents they claim resulted from sudden acceleration defects.  In all, the seven want to be reimbursed for damages exceeding $230,000.

They cite data from 725 crashes allegedly caused by runaway Toyota vehicles  — and contend the maker should have equipped those vehicles with brake override systems that would have made it easier to halt a product that experienced a problem with sudden acceleration.

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A report in the Los Angeles Times, on Monday, cited language in the lawsuit that claims, “certain of Toyota’s cars and trucks have a defect that causes sudden uncontrolled acceleration to speeds of up to 100 mph or more.”

A Toyota spokesperson, however, contended that the suit “was completely unfounded and has no basis.”