Toyota Wins First Acceleration Case before a Jury; Many Cases Remain
Last month, Toyota was cleared of liability in the case of a New York doctor's car accident caused by unintended acceleration. This case was the first Toyota acceleration case deliberated by a jury since the corporation recalled millions of vehicles for sticky pedals and dangerous floor mats during 2009-2010.
Though the plaintiff alleged that the crash was caused by a defect in his vehicle's electric system, he was not allowed to admit evidence on the electric system at trial. Toyota insisted that the plaintiff was responsible for the crash by hitting the accelerator pedal rather than the brake.
Though Toyota characterized the ruling as an "important benchmark" for future lawsuits, judges presiding over future suits may admit evidence regarding the electric systems of the vehicles in question and it will then be up to the jury to decide whether or not the plaintiff's allegations are legitimate.
Numerous studies have been conducted by private and governmental agencies which indicate that the electrical systems of Toyota vehicles were not responsible for (at minimum) the majority of unintended acceleration cases brought by crash victims or their loved ones.
However, Toyota's defective pedals and floor mats are of continued concern in many suits still pending. In addition, Toyota's request that suits alleging economic loss due to the acceleration scandal be dismissed was rejected in late April by the federal judge overseeing the combined federal cases against the automaker.
Though Toyota won a victory before the first jury to handle an unintended acceleration case, the automaker will continue to be a fixture in courtrooms for many months to come.