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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.

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.

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© Copyright 2013 Brett A. Emison

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