In what is expected to be the beginning of a slew of wrongful death lawsuits, Toyota Motor Corporation has settled the first suit stemming from sudden acceleration issues with its Camry models. Toyota settled the suit with the families of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd, who were killed in 2010 when their Camry careened down an off-ramp in Utah, through an intersection before crashing into a wall.
The case had been set for trial in February, and the financial terms surrounding the settlement were not disclosed.
The Japanese automaker has been maligned for issues stemming from faulty floor mats that invariably would cause accelerator pedals to be trapped under them. Most notably, a 2009 case involving a Lexus that accelerated suddenly on a Southern California freeway took the lives of a CHP officer and his family members. The ensuing lawsuit resulted in a $10 million settlement.
Since then, more than 14 million vehicles were recalled and numerous lawsuits were filed, with some blaming electronic defects for sudden acceleration incidents. At the same time, a number of suits were based on economic losses owners suffered due to the steep drop in values. Toyota recently agreed to a $1 billion settlement to resolve those claims.
As for the remaining wrongful death suits, Toyota issued a statement indicating that it would settle selected suits, but it stands ready to defend its products at trial. This suggests that it will maintain its stance regarding the integrity of its electronic systems. However, questions will continue to persist as to whether Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System is to blame.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, Toyota settles bellwether wrongful death lawsuit, January 17, 2013