NY Times – In Oklahoma, a lawsuit surrounding a fatal car accident that injured an 82 year old woman and left a 70 year old woman named Barbara Schwarz dead, was settled on Friday between Toyota and the families of the two women involved. For the first time ever, a jury found Toyota responsible for sudden acceleration of their vehicle that caused the crash. Since Toyota could not show evidence that something other than a defect in the car caused the accident, the jury concluded that Toyota was responsible. More than 11 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles have had problems such as floor mats causing the accelerator to become stuck, and these vehicles have all been recalled. These millions of recalls were not great for the reputation of Toyota but despite the public embarrassment, Toyota reported its best earnings in the past five years. There have been several lawsuits against Toyota recently. In 2009 and 2010, $1.6 billion was given to Toyota vehicle owners who lost money from unintended acceleration.
Toyota claims it will not end its aggressive defense on all lawsuits against the company, especially the most recent incident involving the death of Barbara Schwarz. Both sides of the suit are happy a mutually acceptable agreement was made and Toyota is hoping this will help their image of selling their customers safe vehicles.
Some legal experts state that recent verdicts against Toyota could give way to new cases going against the car company that can cost the company billions of dollars in recalls and lawsuits. Each family of the two women from Oklahoma received $1.5 million in damages. In this case, it was found that Toyota’s actions were reckless and their electronic throttle control system was flawed.
Toyota was recently cleared in a case involving a 66 year old woman who died when crashing her 2006 Camry, in which the jury decided that the blame should fall on the driver who hit the 66 year old woman and sent her car down the wrong way on a one way street. The lawyer representing the family of the dead 66 year old women claims Toyota was responsible because they didn’t provide a brake override system.
While Toyota has avoided penalty for some of the accidents caused by defects in their cars, at least some of the victims of these accidents have won compensation. Hopefully, Toyota takes the high road and fixes the problems with its vehicles’ acceleration so no one else gets hurt.