After recalling more than 11 million vehicles, Toyota has finally asked to settle hundreds of injury and death claims stemming from its well-documented sudden acceleration problem.
As best as I can determine, I first wrote about Toyota sudden acceleration problems on October 28, 2009. Since then, I’ve written dozens of times about this deadly problem.
- I wrote about how Toyota denied for more than 5 years that sudden acceleration even existed.
- I wrote in January 2010 how a simple fix that cost less than $1.00 would have prevented the problems.
- I commented on how US safety officials called Toyota “safety deaf”.
- I documented Toyota’s checkered safety history.
- I wrote about Toyota’s culture of secrecy.
- I described how Toyota bragged about saving $100 million by delaying the sudden acceleration recall.
- I documented Toyota’s.. ahem.. misstatements to the public about sudden acceleration.
- I showed how Toyota’s “testing” was designed for its defense lawyers, not for safety.
- I showed what the NHTSA/NASA reports didn’t say about sudden acceleration.
- And I wrote about Toyota’s $1 billion class action settlement over sudden acceleration defects.
For all of this writing, I got to talk engineers, safety experts, and with a NASA scientist; and I also took a little heat. Ted Frank, (I thought about calling Ted a name here – in fact I had it all typed out but then deleted it – call it “personal growth and maturity”) anyway, Ted called me a liar and accused me (and other trial lawyers) of killing people for money and said, explicitly: “Remember: trial lawyer lies don’t just steal, they kill.” You can read my detailed response, titled “Dear Ted Frank”.
Friday’s are, in the news industry, the days to dump information you don’t want people to hear. So it’s not all that surprising that Toyota announced its desire to settle injury and death claims stemming from its sudden acceleration problem last Friday. The New York Times noted that Toyota’s decision came just two months after an Oklahoma jury found Toyota had acted with reckless disregard and was liable for a 2005 crash that killed a woman and injured another.
The “intensive” settlement process will begin in February. Under the plan, Toyota will engage in settlement conferences on a case-by-case basis. If no agreement is reached, the case will be heard by a non-binding mediator. If the case remains unresolved, it will return to the trial schedule. Toyota has already settled a number of higher profile sudden acceleration lawsuits – including the suit stemming from the crash that killed a California Highway Patrolman and members of his family in 2009.
- Toyota Seeks a Settlement for Sudden Acceleration Cases [Jaclyn Trop at The New York Times]
- Toyota looks to settle sudden-acceleration lawsuits [Ken Bensinger at The Los Angeles Times]
- Toyota Waves the White Flag on Sudden-Acceleration Lawsuits [Paul. M. Barrett at Bloomberg]
© Copyright 2013 Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.