Toyota Fatal Acceleration Case Ends With $3M Payout Settlement

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 06:16 PM

By Robin Farmer

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Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a confidential settlement over a fatal acceleration issue and the company must pay a total of $3 million to crash victims, an Oklahoma judge ruled Friday.

A jury Thursday directed the company to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages to the family of Barbara Schwarz, who was killed in the 2007 crash, and $1.5 million to Jean Bookout, who was injured.

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The jury decided Toyota acted with "reckless disregard" for the rights of others, The Associated Press reported.

Before jurors could deliberate on Friday whether to award punitive damages, a confidential settlement was reached.

It's the first jury ruling against Toyota in a personal injury case involving unintended acceleration, said the AP. The jury also determined that a defect in a Toyota vehicle's software linked to the electronic throttle-control system was to blame.

The Japanese automaker has said that electronics played no role in the problem.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but it includes a provision that Toyota will not appeal the jury's decision, said Jere Beasley, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

"You can rest assured they did not want to go to the punitive phase," Beasley said, according to the AP.

"While we strongly disagree with the verdict, we are satisfied that the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case," said Toyota spokeswoman Carly Schaffner in a statement, according to CNN. "We will continue to defend our products vigorously at trial in other legal venues."

According to plaintiff attorney Cole Portis, Toyota continues to deny it was at fault in the settlement. The agreement ends the chance for Toyota to appeal the verdict and will get the money for the plaintiffs without delay, CNN reported.

"We are fully convinced that Toyota's conduct from the time the electronic throttle control system (ETCS) was designed has been shameful," said Portis. "We appreciate that the jury had the courage to let Toyota and the public know that Toyota was reckless. Hopefully, Toyota will recall all of their questionable vehicles and install a computer that will be safe."

Recently, a California jury failed to find Toyota liable for the death of a California woman who was killed when her 2006 Camry apparently accelerated and crashed.

In July, a federal judge in California approved a $1.6 billion settlement in a class action suit filed over economic loss suffered by owners who say their vehicles’ value dropped after the negative publicity about the issue.

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Related stories:

Toyota Yaris Recall: Steering Wheel Glitch Affects 185K Cars

Toyota Recalls 885K Camrys, Avalons, Venzas for Airbag Problem

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