A Los Angeles jury has found Toyota was not to blame for a fatal accident in 2009 in which a 66-year-old woman's Camry sped out of control and crashed into a tree.
The jury ruled there was no defect in Noriko Uno's 2006 Toyota Camry, rejecting her family’s allegation that the absence of a brake override system was responsible for Uno’s car failing to stop when she was trying to brake.
Bloomberg reports the jury attributed full responsibility to the driver of a second vehicle that ran a stop sign and crashed into Uno’s car before her fatal accident, and ruled that the other driver should pay US$10 million ($10.6 million) in damages to Uno’s family.
The case is tipped to be a bellwether for around 85 other wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits in California that were brought against the Japanese car maker following a series of recalls in 2009 and 2010 relating to unintended accelerations, including sliding floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals. Uno’s 2006 Camry was not involved in any of those recalls.
Uno’s son, Jeffery Uno, told reporters he was “very happy with the verdict” but “disappointed about the outcome with respect to Toyota”.
“I wish the best for the other cases and hope that they'll have better luck and an outcome that will shed more light on the problems in Toyota vehicles,” he said.
Toyota said it was gratified that the jury concluded the design of the Camry did not contribute to the crash.
“[The ruling affirms] 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,” Toyota said in a statement.
“We believe this verdict sets a significant benchmark by helping further confirm that Toyota vehicles are safe with or without brake override.”