Toyota’s Sudden Acceleration Suit and Punitive Damages
Toyota Motor Corporation pays $3-million to the plaintiffs for the sudden acceleration suit in September 2007 accident. Toyota quickly settled the case before a jury could deliberate on a punitive damage amount. The possibility of losing millions in punitive damages made Toyota come to a quick settlement.
An Oklahoma City jury Thursday ruled the case. According to him a defective electronic system in a Camry Sedan was the cause of the sudden acceleration suit. The later lost control and wrecked killing one women and injuring the other
The jury directed Toyota to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages to the driver Jean Bookout. Another $1.5 million to Barbara Schwarz’s family for her death in the accident.
“The jury found that Toyota acted with reckless disregard. It seemed clear that the jury would award punitive damages. More likely in a substantial amount,” said Carl Tobias, law professor and product liability expert. “Toyota wanted to avoid the adverse publicity and additional momentum for other plaintiffs that associated with punitive damage award,” Tobias said.
Was It the Blame of Sudden Acceleration Suit
In a very brief time the jury decided that the software in the 2005 Camry’s electronic throttle system was flawed. The verdict came after three weeks of trial. Once they announced the verdict, attorneys of both sides set an agreement of an amount that was confidential. They did so to avoid jury’s contemplation of punitive damages. According to Toyota spokeswoman, Carly Schaffner, the automaker strongly disagrees with the verdict of sudden acceleration suit. However, it remains committed to providing the customers with safe and reliable vehicles. Schaffner stated that the company will continue to defend its products vigorously at trial in other legal venues.
Toyota has issued recalls on millions of vehicles to fix what thy claim was the problem; floor mats and gas pedal issues. Toyota claims that the drivers had stepped on the gas instead of the brakes.
Toyota’s top executives have stood before several congressional committees that investigated the issues. The car maker has paid over $65 million in fees for infringements of the federal vehicle safety regulations.
However, Toyota still faces hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related to sudden acceleration.