The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Toyota has agreed to settle one of the high-profile lawsuits that were filed against Toyota that led to congressional fines against Toyota and a global recall of thousands of Toyota vehicles for unintended sudden acceleration. The details of the settlement agreement are apparently confidential. Toyota revealed the settlement in a letter to a California Superior Court judge.
The case involved a fatal crash near San Diego in which California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor was killed, along with his wife, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law. Part of the events of that crash were captured on a 911 recording of the victims screaming “There’s no brakes!” moments before a fiery death. The accident triggered a chain of events leading to congressional hearings, multiple federal investigations and record fines against Toyota. Investigators said the crash may have been caused by an improperly installed floor mat, but attorneys for the family argued that the floor mat was not the problem. He said the accident could have been caused by an inherent defect in the car’s electronics.
The Lexus dealership that sold the vehicle was not a party to the settlement agreement leading to speculation that the stage may be set for a fight between Toyota and its dealerships as to who is to blame for sudden acceleration incidents. “Toyota has sought to protect only its own interests. They decided to cut out their own dealer,” said Larry Willis, attorney for Bob Baker Lexus,
The automaker still faces dozens of other lawsuits in that courtroom, as well as federal personal injury suits and claims for economic damage that have been consolidated in a U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif.
Last week, Toyota filed a motion to dismiss hundreds of the federal complaints seeking class-action status on grounds that they failed to identify a single electronic defect that could cause sudden acceleration.
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