Based on a federal judge' "tentative ruling" on December 9, 2010, lawsuits alleging personal injury and wrongful death will go forward against Toyota. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the Japanese automaker related to unintended acceleration and braking defects. With his ruling, Judge James Selna was apparently satisfied that lawyers for injured customers and families of those killed from Toyota vehicles established sufficient evidence to show these cases should go forward.
Lawsuits against Toyota accuse the manufacturer of concealing knowledge of possible defects in its vehicles that could result in potentially deadly accidents. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that rather than disclosing the (unintended acceleration) defects to consumers, Toyota often blamed consumers for unintended acceleration problems.
Toyota has recalled more than 10 million vehicles globally related to unintended acceleration. The vehicles effected by Toyota' recall include the Toyota Corolla, Camry, Avalon, and most Lexus sedans. The U.S. government began investigating Toyota after the carmaker admitted its 2010 Prius had a design defect.
One wrongful death lawsuit involves a Lexus ES350 loaner vehicle given to a married couple by a Southern California Lexus dealer. The lawsuit, filed by the parents of an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, alleges a 911 call was placed while the officer was driving on a family outing. The off-duty officer describes the car' sudden acceleration on the freeway as high as 120 MPH before coming to an intersection. The officer frantically begs the 911 dispatcher for help explaining, in part:
"our accelerator is stuck‚Ä¶We're going 120;‚Ä¶we're in trouble. We can't‚Ä¶there is no brakes. End freeway half-mile‚Ä¶We're approaching the intersection. We're approaching the intersection.
According to the lawsuit, the call soon ended before the Lexus struck another vehicle, traveled across a road, rolled several times into a field and burst into flames. The off-duty officer and three other family members died in the crash.
If Judge Selna finalizes his December 9, 2010 tentative ruling, Toyota will face about 400 lawsuits from Toyota customers and families of those who lost loved ones.
Posted by: Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Jason M. Kroot