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Toyota enters talks over sudden acceleration claims

Car manufacturer starts intensive settlement process regarding wrongful death lawsuits

Toyota has entered settlement talks over the “sudden acceleration” lawsuits and will reportedly start “intensive settlement process” to resolve the lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim the issue with the automobiles caused death or severe injury. Trials in California were set to take place in March, and there are nearly 200 claims in that state. Another case is set for trial in February in Michigan.

“Participation in the intensive settlement process is open to all plaintiffs,” U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif. said in the order on December 12th. “Cases that do not resolve during the initial settlement conference shall be set for a formal mediation.”

Bloomberg News provides the essentials:

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa AnaCalifornia … issued an order halting the suits after Toyota and the lawyers asked for time to try settling the cases. Selna was scheduled to hear the first trial in March of about 200 federal claims consolidated before him. “Participation in the intensive settlement process is open to all plaintiffs,” Selna said in the order. “Cases that do not resolve during the initial settlement conference shall be set for a formal mediation.”

The move toward settlement comes less than two months after Toyota lost its first trial in a lawsuit claiming an electronic defect can cause its vehicles to speed up uncontrollably. Toyota settled after an Oklahoma City jury ordered the company to pay $3 million. … The carmaker recalled more than 10 million vehicles for problems related to unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010, starting with a September 2009 announcement that it was recalling 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles because of a defect that might cause floor mats to jam accelerator pedals. The company later recalled vehicles over defects involving the pedals themselves.

According to AutoNews.com, the move toward settlement comes just two months after Toyota lost its first trial in a lawsuit claiming an electronic defect can cause its vehicles to speed up uncontrollably. In that case, the carmaker was ordered by an Oklahoma jury to pay $3 million, deciding a defect in a Camry caused the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally, leaving one person dead and another injured. But in his opening statement, the attorney for Toyota, J. Randolph Bibb, said there was no defect in the vehicle that would have caused the accident.

"After taking the wrong exit toward an unfamiliar road, 76-year-old Jean Bookout made a mistake in the operation of her 2005 Camry," Bibb said. He suggested that she may have pressed the accelerator instead of the brake as she left the highway.

Another lawsuit set for trial in Wayne, W. Va has also been recently settled. That was a case connected to driver Opal Gay Vance who suffered lower-back injuries when 2010 Camry sped up and crashed.

 

For more news on automotive lawsuits, check out the following:

First Toyota wrongful death trial over acceleration problems commences 

First Toyota acceleration case goes to trial

Toyota settles first of hundreds of wrongful death suits

Contributing Author

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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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