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Toyota sudden acceleration case set to begin in LA Monday

July 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the past five years Toyota has been fighting off lawsuits over a sudden acceleration problem with some of its vehicles. On Monday, one of those cases will finally be heard at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

According to the family of 66-year-old Noriko Uno, she was driving home in her Toyota Camry when it unexpectedly accelerated to speeds up to 100 mph.

They say she did everything she could to slow it down, but after swerving to avoid other cars, she struck a telephone pole and tree and was killed.

The Uno family sued Toyota. On Monday, their case finally goes to trial.

Up until now, Toyota had settled similar cases out of court.

"This trial is significant because it is the first case that Toyota has gone to trial on the sudden acceleration. And they've settled a lot of cases in order to avoid that," said Joan Claybrook, former president of Public Citizen. "That means that they think they can win this case so it's going to be a landmark case."

Plaintiffs in 80 other similar cases against Toyota will be watching. The lawyer for the Uno family says Toyota cut corners to save money and didn't install a mechanism to stop the accelerator if the gas and brake pedals are pressed at the same time.

Toyota released the following statement about the upcoming trial: "We are confident the evidence will show that a break override system would not have prevented this accident and that there was no defect in Mrs. Uno's vehicle."

"I think the lawyer for Mrs. Uno has to prove there is no way that she could stop this vehicle it went suddenly out of control," said Claybrook.

Toyota has included the brake override system on all cars after 2011. A judge has recently ordered them to retro fit more than 3 million earlier models with the same system.

Toyota initally blamed cases of sudden acceleration on sticky gas pedals and floor mats that trapped the pedal. That led to a voluntary recall of more than 7 million vehicles.


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