Toyota Wins First U.S. Accelerators Verdict

'We believe that this case sets an important benchmark for unintended acceleration litigation against Toyota across this country, as it clearly demonstrates a plaintiff's inability to identify, let alone prove the existence of, an alleged electronic defec

On March 1 Toyota won its first U.S. jury verdict over accusations that its accelerator pedals are subject to dangerous jamming.

The court in Central Islip on Long Island, New York was the first in the country to render a decision in the controversy that has forced Toyota into recalling more than 12 million vehicles worldwide for adjustments since 2009.

Amir Sitafalwalla sued Toyota, saying design problems in his Scion's floor mat or possibly the electronic throttle had caused him to surge into a tree.

Toyota welcomed the jury's decision.

"We believe that this case sets an important benchmark for unintended acceleration litigation against Toyota across this country, as it clearly demonstrates a plaintiff's inability to identify, let alone prove the existence of, an alleged electronic defect," the company said.

Lawyers for Sitafalwalla said Toyota had presented strong arguments, but that the company should not necessarily expect the legal onslaught to end.

"This verdict is just one finding on a case-by-case basis and it should not be viewed as an indicator of the results of many future contests expected between parties injured in sudden acceleration accidents and Toyota," attorney Albert Zafonte said.

The latest Toyota recall took place in February, when 2.3 million vehicles in North America were identified for checks to fix floor mat and carpet defects that could jam the accelerator.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had asked Toyota to make the call-back in the wake of a 10-month U.S. government probe ruling out problems with the vehicles' electronic control systems.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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