Closing arguments had begun on September 30th in the Toyota wrongful death lawsuit that is being heard in Los Angeles. Four years ago, the driver of a 2006 Toyota Camry was killed in a crash. While the woman's family alleges that Toyota was negligent in not providing a safety device upon the Camry, Toyota countered by claiming the woman's reckless driving was the cause of the crash.
It is claimed that a defect to the vehicle caused it to accelerate up to speeds of 100 miles per hour before the car struck a telephone pole. The attorney for the woman's family stated that the emergency brake in the Toyota was found to be raised after investigators looked through the wreckage. This demonstrated that his client did everything she could to bring the car to a stop.
Toyota's defense was that the woman mistook the gas pedal for the brake. Toyota claims that touching the brake would have deactivated the accelerator and resulted in the car slowing down. Also, it was argued that the emergency brake became raised as a result of the crash rather than because of the woman's attempt to stop the car.
The attorney for the victim's family argued that evidence demonstrated there were skid marks on the roadway. He also reminded jury members that witnesses claimed to have seen the brake lights of the Toyota illuminated prior to the crash.
As in many products liability cases, it is difficult to know whose testimony is correct from the little information that is usually reported in the newspapers. Those representing victims in these sorts of cases have to contend with large corporations that generally have at their disposal large legal staffs. Here, for example, it was reported that Toyota had already spent over $1 billion to settle lawsuits involving allegations of unintended acceleration.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Toyota, driver's family differ on cause of fatal 2009 crash," Jerry Hirsch, Sep. 30, 201