A jury in California decided on Thursday that Japanese car giants Toyota Motor Corp. are not liable in one of the first wrongful death lawsuits to go to trial in the United States over alleged defects in their vehicles that caused some of the cars to unexpectedly accelerate. The complainants were the husband and son of Noriko Uno, a 66-year old woman who died in a 2009 car crash involving a 2006 model Toyota Camry. The case is one among hundreds of similar other lawsuits faced by Toyota over the aforementioned acceleration issues, which prompted the Japanese carmakers to recall millions of vehicles since 2009.
The argument of the complainants was that Uno’s Camry was struck by another vehicle, causing it to speed out of control until it hit a tree, also killing the victim. Uno’s family accused Toyota of failing to install brake-override systems that could have stopped the out-of-control acceleration in vehicles sold in the U.S. Uno’s vehicle was incidentally not part of the ones that had the acceleration issue and was therefore not part of the recall. “Regarding the verdict, we are gratified that the jury concluded the design of the 2006 Camry did not contribute to this unfortunate accident, affirming 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,” a Toyota spokeswoman said in a statement. The lawyer for the family of Noriko Uno could not be immediately reached for comment.
Toyota’s troubles are far from over with this issue, as around 200 proposed class actions and more than 500 individual cases have been filed against the company since February 2009. This week, a federal judge in California ruled that Toyota must be tried over claims that the company failed to warn the public about the car defects that caused some accelerate unintentionally. The first federal sudden-acceleration case to go to trial ended with a win for Toyota in 2011, in a lawsuit brought by a doctor who worked in Brooklyn.
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