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Reports indicate that Toyota has settled the product liability and wrongful death lawsuit that arose after a Lexus ES accelerated out of control near San Diego, killing off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, Mark Saylor and three members of his family. Saylor’s family brought the suit against Toyota (which designs and manufactures Lexus vehicles) and Bob Baker Lexus, the dealership that loaned the vehicle to Saylor. The settlement releases Toyota only and Bob Baker Lexus remains a defendant in the case.

From the Los Angeles Times:

[T]he settlement has left out co-defendant Bob Baker Lexus, a move by [Toyota] that could set the stage for a potentially bloody fight with its own dealers over who is to blame for sudden acceleration incidents.

"Toyota has sought to protect only its own interests. They decided to cut out their own dealer," said Larry Willis, attorney for Bob Baker Lexus….

Investigators have suggested the crash may have been caused by an improperly installed floor mat. Indeed, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles for this potential safety defect. However, attorneys for Bob Baker Lexus, suggest the accident could have been caused by an inherent defect in Toyota’s electronics.

Toyota is expected to file motions in Superior Court in Santa Ana informing the court of the settlement terms, but asking that the terms be kept confidential – meaning the public may never know the terms of the settlement. Attorneys for Bob Bake Lexus are expected to oppose the confidentiality provision.

The Saylor sudden acceleration crash occurred on August 28, 2009. Toyota had received complaints of sudden acceleration problems since 2002, but it wasn’t until the Saylor crash that the national public took notice. Saylor’s brother-in-law was able to call 911 from a cell phone before the horrific crash.

Three days after the Saylor crash, an internal Toyota email warned of consequences from US government regulators, saying "killing a police officer means the death penalty." Toyota would eventually halt production of its vehicles and recall more than 10 million vehicles worldwide.

More information on Toyota and the Saylor Settlement:

(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison

2 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Outraged

    I'm sorry to see Toyota cave into the plaintiffs in this case, when it's been proven in all these cases that human error is the culprit.

  2. Gravatar for Brett Emison

    Outraged - I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment, but your facts just aren't correct on this one.

    Certainly, pedal misapplication is the cause of some of the Toyota sudden acceleration cases. Just as certainly, pedal misapplication is not the cause of all Toyota sudden acceleration incidents.

    Toyota has admitted to two independent causes of sudden acceleration: floor mat interference and "sticky" gas pedals. Toyota halted production and recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide because of these defects. Many independent experts believe that electronic malfunctions might also be a cause of sudden acceleration.

    In the Saylor case, it is highly doubtful that pedal misapplication was the cause. Trooper Saylor was a member of the California Highway Patrol and was a highly trained and skilled driver. Also, the event was prolonged, lasting enough time for the occupants to call 911. I don't believe anyone has suggested pedal misapplication caused the Saylor sudden acceleration crash.

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

Comments are closed.

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