Toyota settles deadly lawsuit

2013-01-18 12:03

UTAH, USA - Toyota has settled what was to be the first in a group of hundreds of pending wrongful death and injury lawsuits involving sudden, unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles, a company spokesman said.

Toyota reached the agreement in the case brought by the family of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd, spokeswoman Celeste Migliore said. They were killed when their Toyota Camry slammed into a wall in Utah, US, in 2010. Migliore declined to disclose the financial terms.


Attorney Mark P. Robinson, who represents the nine plaintiffs named in the suit, did not reply to phone or email messages. The remaining lawsuits are not affected by the settlement, Migliore said.

Toyota issued a statement saying that the company and its attorneys may decide to settle select cases, but "we will have a number of other opportunities to defend our product at trial."

The statement said: "We sympathize with anyone in an accident involving one of our vehicles. However we continue to stand fully behind the safety and integrity of Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System, which multiple independent evaluations have confirmed as safe."

The Los Angeles Times said Toyota had also reached a settlement in another case brought by retired Los Angeles police officer Michael Houlf. The case was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and brought under California's lemon law for vehicles. The size of that settlement and details about that case were not immediately available.

In December 2012, Toyota agreed to a settlement worth more than the equivalent of R8.8-billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses Toyota owners suffered when the Japanese automaker recalled millions of vehicles. Hundreds more lawsuits involving wrongful death and injury remained.

The Van Alfen case was to be the first of those tried, and to serve as a bellwether for the rest. It had been set to go to trial in February.

In 2010, Toyota settled a previous wrongful death lawsuit for the equivalent of about R88.3-million before the current cases were consolidated in US District Court in Santa Ana.


In an earlier case, a California Highway Patrol officer and three of his family members were killed in suburban San Diego in 2009 after their car, a Toyota-built Lexus, reached speeds of more than 193km/h, hit an SUV, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. Investigators determined that a wrong-size floor mat trapped the accelerator and caused the crash.

That discovery spurred a series of recalls involving more than 14-million vehicles and a flood of lawsuits soon followed, with numerous complaints of accelerations in several models, and brake defects with the Prius hybrid.

Toyota has blamed driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.

In the accident that spawned the newly settled case, Van Alfen was driving the Camry on Interstate 80 near Wendover, Utah, on November 5 2010, when it suddenly accelerated, investigators said. Skid marks showed that Van Alfen tried to stop the vehicle as it exited Interstate 80, police said.

The car went through a stop sign at the bottom of the ramp and through an intersection before hitting the wall.

Van Alfen and Lloyd, his son's fiancee, were killed. Van Alfen's wife and son were injured.

The Utah Highway Patrol concluded based on statements from witnesses and the crash survivors that the gas pedal was stuck.

  • freek.vn - 2013-01-18 13:09

    Stupid Americans! If the gas pedal gets stuck and the car accelerates, you just have to turn off the ignition key switch and the car will come to a stop, admisively without power steering and power brakes, but at least the vehicle will slow down and soon come to a halt.

      ThandoGqabaza - 2013-01-18 15:21

      Ja but why do that when you can sue ? Plus it was later found out that some of these characters hit the gas pedal by mistake.

      Paul - 2013-01-23 12:02

      Often when one panicks, you don't think straight.

  • sean.ohagan.777 - 2013-01-18 21:46

    The Toyota vehicles of today are not of the same quality and reliability of the Toyotas of 10 years ago. Anybody considering buying a Toyota vehicle needs to take note of the class actions pending as well as the many recalls of Toyota vehicles to fix problems that should have been eliminated long before the vehicles are released for sale to the general public. See my website toyotasucks.co.za and see what happens when sub- standard vehicles are fobbed off on an unsuspecting and trusting public. Things do not keep on going right with Toyota and you can not depend on their dealers to render quality, honest service. Many vehicle manufacturers now offer factory warranties of 5 years. Why not Toyota?

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