U.S. federal judge James Selna dismissed the first sudden acceleration lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. Thursday, saying his court lacked jurisdiction and the case should have been filed in Utah state court.
The world’s largest automaker has been in hot water since recalling millions of vehicles in late 2009, after receiving claims regarding sudden acceleration caused by problems with the vehicles’ gas pedal and floor mats.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Paul Van Alfen, who was killed in 2010 when his 2008 Toyota Camry unexpectedly accelerated and slammed into an exit ramp wall. Charlene Lloyd, a passenger in the car, died the next day from her injuries. Van Alfen’s wife and son sustained injuries and are suing as well.
The Van Alfen case was the first test case in the several sudden acceleration claims, and was set for trial in California in 2013. In his decision, Judge Selna said the plaintiffs could not reach a federal required $50,000 threshold for damages.
“We are pleased this jurisdictional issue has been resolved and that the court agrees with Toyota that the proper forum for this case is Utah state court,” said Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.