Jury Finds Toyota Not Liable in Acceleration Death Case - KMSP-TV

Jury Finds Toyota Not Liable in Acceleration Death Case

Posted: Updated:
Flikr - Danielctw Flikr - Danielctw

LOS ANGELES, Calif (CNS / KTTV) - A downtown Los Angeles jury has cleared Toyota of any wrongdoing in a lawsuit alleging unintended acceleration led to the death of an Upland woman whose Camry slammed into a tree in 2009.

The verdict was a major victory for the automaker, which is still the target of dozens of other lawsuits across the country claiming that defects in Toyota vehicles led to instances of unintended acceleration. The downtown Los Angeles case was the first lawsuit in a series of consolidated cases to go to trial, and the proceedings were being closely watched as a bellwether for other pending suits.

Carly Schaffner, business communications manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA, said the company was "gratified" by the jury's decision that the design of the car "did not contribute to this unfortunate accident."

Schaffner said the verdict affirmed "the same conclusion we reached after more than three years of careful investigation -- that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle at issue in this case."

"As an important bellwether in these consolidated state proceedings, we believe this verdict sets a significant benchmark by helping further confirm that Toyota vehicles are safe with or without brake override," Schaffner said.

Attorneys for the family of Noriko Uno contended during the trial that Toyota failed to include a brake-override system on the 2006 Camry that would have prevented the crash that killed the 66-year-old woman.

Toyota's attorneys called the crash a "simple case" of driver error and "pedal misapplication." They claimed Uno might have intended to step on the brake, but was actually activating the gas pedal.

Lawyers for Uno's family had asked the Los Angeles Superior Court jury to award $20 million in damages.

While the jury cleared Toyota of any liability, it did award Uno's family $10 million in damages -- assessed against Olga Belo, who ran a stop sign in a Lexus and struck Uno's Camry on Aug. 28, 2009, causing it to swerve out of control and hit speeds of 80 to 90 mph, eventually slamming into a tree in Upland.

Toyota lawyer Vincent Galvin told jurors during the trial that not having an override system in the vehicle "doesn't make it defective -- it just makes it old."

He argued during the two-month trial that the computerized "logic" system added in 2011 to all Camrys sold in the U.S. "is not a remedy for pedal misapplication."

Galvin said Uno was hypoglycemic, distracted by the first crash and short in stature -- all factors that the attorney said have been shown to potentially cause misuse of the brake and gas pedals.

"This is not a stuck-pedal case," Galvin told the jury. "This is a case of simple driver error -- pedal misapplication. ... This accident was not caused by the vehicle -- it was caused by the driver."

But Garo Mardirossian, attorney for Uno's family, told jurors Uno was in no way impaired at the time of the crash.

"Her health was not an issue," the attorney said. "Her health had nothing to do with her driving."

Earlier this year, Toyota reached a $1.6 billion settlement of a class-action federal lawsuit involving claims of unintended acceleration. Those claims prompted the automaker to recall more than 10 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010.

Mardirossian contended that Toyota officials had issued a recall for 2007 Camrys to install the brake-override system but did nothing about the 2006 models, despite large numbers of issues with unintended acceleration.

  • Los Angeles & SoCal NewsLos Angeles & SoCal NewsMore>>

  • FOUND: AMBER ALERT 4-Year-Old Boy Abducted & Suspect Angel Jacoba Schat

    FOUND: AMBER ALERT 4-Year-Old Boy Abducted & Suspect Angel Jacoba Schat

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-08-22 04:31:04 GMT
    On August 19, 2014, at 10:00 pm, Sjon Singleton was abducted from Bishop, CA. Sjon singleton is a 4-year-old, light-skinned black male, 3 feet tall, 35 pound, juvenile with black hair, and brown eyes, unknown clothing .Suspect is Angel Jacoba Schat, a 43year-old, white, female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes.
    On August 19, 2014, at 10:00 pm, Sjon Singleton was abducted from Bishop, CA. Sjon singleton is a 4-year-old, light-skinned black male, 3 feet tall, 35 pound, juvenile with black hair, and brown eyes, unknown clothing .Suspect is Angel Jacoba Schat, a 43year-old, white, female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes.
  • Drone-Free LAPD?

    Drone-Free LAPD?

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:32 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:32:17 GMT
    A drone can fire a missile and take out a terrorist hiding in a cave. Or a drone (operated remotely a continent or two away) can be used to fire missiles against troops on the ground, or any other target.
    A drone can fire a missile and take out a terrorist hiding in a cave. Or a drone (operated remotely a continent or two away) can be used to fire missiles against troops on the ground, or any other target.
  • Hidden Key Thieves

    Hidden Key Thieves

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:49 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:49:45 GMT
    It's amazing the lengths beach goers will go to so they don't have to take their personal belongings to the beach. Some people leave their wallets, purses, credit and ID cards in their cars and then put their keys on top of a tire as if to hide it.
    It's amazing the lengths beach goers will go to so they don't have to take their personal belongings to the beach. Some people leave their wallets, purses, credit and ID cards in their cars and then put their keys on top of a tire as if to hide it.
  • Share ThisMore>>

  • "Apparently" This Kid is Awesome, Steals the Show During Interview

    "Apparently" This Kid is Awesome, Steals the Show During Interview

    Friday, August 22 2014 1:24 AM EDT2014-08-22 05:24:45 GMT
    “Apparently” this kid should have a future in the news business and his You Tube Video has gone viral with more than 14 million views!
    “Apparently” this kid should have a future in the news business and his You Tube Video has gone viral with more than 14 million views!
  • FOUND: AMBER ALERT 4-Year-Old Boy Abducted & Suspect Angel Jacoba Schat

    FOUND: AMBER ALERT 4-Year-Old Boy Abducted & Suspect Angel Jacoba Schat

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-08-22 04:31:04 GMT
    On August 19, 2014, at 10:00 pm, Sjon Singleton was abducted from Bishop, CA. Sjon singleton is a 4-year-old, light-skinned black male, 3 feet tall, 35 pound, juvenile with black hair, and brown eyes, unknown clothing .Suspect is Angel Jacoba Schat, a 43year-old, white, female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes.
    On August 19, 2014, at 10:00 pm, Sjon Singleton was abducted from Bishop, CA. Sjon singleton is a 4-year-old, light-skinned black male, 3 feet tall, 35 pound, juvenile with black hair, and brown eyes, unknown clothing .Suspect is Angel Jacoba Schat, a 43year-old, white, female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes.
  • Firefighters seriously injured in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    Firefighters seriously injured in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    Thursday, August 21 2014 3:10 PM EDT2014-08-21 19:10:37 GMT
    Two Kentucky firefighters were seriously injured helping a college band perform an ice bucket challenge stunt. The bucket of the fire truck apparently touched power lines outside of the football stadium at Campbellsville University.  wo Campbellsville/Taylor County Fire Department firefighters were taken to the hospital after the incident.
    Two Kentucky firefighters were seriously injured helping a college band perform an ice bucket challenge stunt. The bucket of the fire truck apparently touched power lines outside of the football stadium at Campbellsville University.  wo Campbellsville/Taylor County Fire Department firefighters were taken to the hospital after the incident.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices