Jury Finds Toyota Not Liable in Acceleration Death Case - New York News

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.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Labor Day dishes by Chef Jason Tilmann

    Labor Day dishes by Chef Jason Tilmann

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:57 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:57:58 GMT
    If you're looking to beef up your Labor Day barbecue with something different, Chef Jason Tilmann, the executive chef at Strand Bistro in Midtown Manhattan, has some ideas and tips. Chef Tilmann demonstrated several dishes.
    If you're looking to beef up your Labor Day barbecue with something different, Chef Jason Tilmann, the executive chef at Strand Bistro in Midtown Manhattan, has some ideas and tips. Chef Tilmann demonstrated several dishes.
  • O'Neill Theater: where stars were born

    O'Neill Theater: where stars were born

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:37 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:37:42 GMT
    It's a running joke that if you mention the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center to nearly anyone in Hollywood they're going to know exactly what you're talking about because odds are they might have gotten their first big break there. Would you believe some Hollywood's biggest stars -- Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Angela Bassett -- got their start in a big red barn in the middle of nowhere.
    It's a running joke that if you mention the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center to nearly anyone in Hollywood they're going to know exactly what you're talking about because odds are they might have gotten their first big break there. Would you believe some Hollywood's biggest stars -- Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Angela Bassett -- got their start in a big red barn in the middle of nowhere.
  • Taxi hits and kills woman in Manhattan

    Taxi hits and kills woman in Manhattan

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:38 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:38:46 GMT
    A taxicab slammed into a woman on the Upper East Side, killing her, police said. The cab, driven by a 30-year-old man, made a left turn onto East 79 Street from Madison Avenue and hit the woman, who was trying to cross the street, the NYPD said.
    A taxicab slammed into a woman on the Upper East Side, killing her, police said. The cab, driven by a 30-year-old man, made a left turn onto East 79 Street from Madison Avenue and hit the woman, who was trying to cross the street, the NYPD said.
  • Los Angeles & SoCal NewsLos Angeles & SoCal NewsMore>>

  • The Los Angeles County Fair Begins Labor Day Weekend

    The Los Angeles County Fair Begins Labor Day Weekend

    Friday, August 29 2014 2:41 PM EDT2014-08-29 18:41:54 GMT
    The Los Angeles County Fair begins its 23-day run at Fairplex in Pomona today with a nighttime Chinese lantern display and an expanded farm area but without a staple of 75 years, horse racing.
    The Los Angeles County Fair begins its 23-day run at Fairplex in Pomona today with a nighttime Chinese lantern display and an expanded farm area but without a staple of 75 years, horse racing.
  • Activists Call On Beverly Hills PD For 'Racial Profiling Prohibition' Ordinance

    Activists Call On Beverly Hills PD For 'Racial Profiling Prohibition' Ordinance

    Friday, August 29 2014 1:28 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:28:03 GMT
    A group of civil rights activists plans today to call on Beverly Hills to enact a "racial profiling prohibition" ordinance in response to the arrest of a black television and film producer.
    A group of civil rights activists plans today to call on Beverly Hills to enact a "racial profiling prohibition" ordinance in response to the arrest of a black television and film producer.
  • Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:48:58 GMT
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
  • Share ThisMore>>

  • Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Venice Lightning Strike Survivor Meets His Rescuers

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:48:58 GMT
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
    A month and a day has passed since the fatal lightning strike suddenly hit the shore off Venice Beach, hospitalizing about a dozen people. One of the most critically injured patients was reunited with his rescuers by the Venice Pier Thursday.
  • Google building fleet of package-delivering drones

    Google building fleet of package-delivering drones

    Google's secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.
    Google's secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.
  • National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:17 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:17:59 GMT
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
Powered by WorldNow
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