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Oklahoma jury finds Toyota liable in fatal acceleration crash

37 Comments
By SEAN MURPHY

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37 Comments
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Quote from last para above: "neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor NASA found evidence of electronic problems."

Yet these attorneys in Oklahoma think they know better? "The attorneys for Bookout and Schwarz’s family maintain the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly because of a defect in the car’s electronic throttle-control system." I wonder what kind of proof they offered?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Often in cases like this, the jury sides with the people they can identify with, rather than the faceless corporation. Thus awarding the case to the 'injured' party, regardless of evidence.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

It still astounds me to this day that people are still seeking financial compensation in these crash cases, despite statistical data completely undermining any suggestions of negligent design on the part of Toyota, considering the relatively low number of "unintended acceleration" cases out there versus the vast number of Toyotas on the road using its advanced electronic throttle-control system.

Heap onto the ridiculousness of this independent and thorough investigations of the electronic throttle-control system by both the NTSB and NASA (for Pete's sake), and you've got the makings for a compelling expose on why 'Murikuh isn't called the "Nation of Litigation" for nothing.

Pathetic. Just pathetic.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

These vehicles are controlled by an on-board computer. All they have to do is download the memory to find out what drivers were doing, and in all cases, the drivers had their foot on the accelerator. That is why the NHTSA found no problems. It has also been remarked that these "unintended acceleration" accidents only happen in the US. Well, these cars are American made...

8 ( +10 / -2 )

"It has also been remarked that these "unintended acceleration" accidents only happen in the US."

In the interest of fairness, "unintended acceleration" issues haven't only happened in the U.S. These accidents have happened in Japan and other countries around the world as well, involving all makes and models of cars.

The results of subequent investigations: Driver error. Pushed the gas pedal instead of the brake.

What's at work here is the wonderfully corrosive power of word-of-mouth fueled in equal parts by the abysmal ignorance of Internet chat and the undying human propensity to believe wholesale everything one reads from said chat.

Add to this equation a cash-fat target like Toyota, and you've got the perfect recipe for B.S. lawsuits like the one above.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

How about the idiot calls to 911 where the stupid driver couldn't stop the racing car they were in? I guess placing the car in neutral and then braking didn't come as a solution to someone so stupid they shouldn't be driving. I remember back in driving school for manual transmissions that they even taught you how restart the engine at all speeds while rolling if somehow the engine stalled out. Either people who drive automatics are are not as well trained or there are really a lot of people that should not be driving for the sake of EVERYONE's safety.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Trial by jury in the court of law. Now the appeals. Let due-process do its work. Isn't that what everybody wants - not tried in the court of public opinion.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Would probably get overturned on appeal. 82 year old driver or the hard evidence from NASA and NHTSA showing no malfunction.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No problems were found, yet Toyota conducted massive recalls. So I wonder what they did? Free wash and wax and send them back?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I will always say.. old cars with cablevaccelerators had worse problens

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When a large number of people report the same problems with the same model cars then something's wrong. I highly doubt that all these people, driving the same model cars, accelerated by mistakenly pushing the gas.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The jury awarded $1.5 million in monetary damages to Jean Bookout, the driver of the car who was injured in the crash,

That's the fun you can expect with laymen juries that defy all expert testimony. Obscene and ridiculous.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Thank god the Corporate bloodmoney could not stop delivering justice to the poor Gaijin victims.Comparing with how Toyota handled the same issue in the Emperors car,this is plain disgusting.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I wonder why Japanese elderly never claim the accelerator excuse when they make a local Lawson's an instant drive-thru in Japan?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

An 82 year old driver running through an intersection? Isn't that enough to cause an accident in any situation? This is a jury in a Red state so a foreign company will never win this trial. The judicial system there must be biased to start off with. Besides with republicans loosing favoritism with the population, they'll do anything to win it back. Good luck Toyota.....I'm sure the rest will hop on the bandwagon.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“We believe Toyota’s conduct from the time the electronic throttle-control system was developed has been shameful,” attorney Cole Portis told jurors. “It’s a big deal, because if it doesn’t work right, people get killed.” Why am I not surprised the TOYOTA just like Ford etc..are always greedy never satisfied and if a few us get killed, sure cover it up, blame it on the drives as long as the SALES go up and $$$ keeps rolling in, right big multinational global greedy corporations??

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

There is more going on here than most will realise, discredit the best car maker in the world to further the interests of the likes of Found On Rubbish Dumps FORD and other US Domestic makers.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I have to agree with the 2nd poster Spoony. And, yes, aren't we such a litigious society. Makes me Embarrassed to be an American. Reminds me of the O.J. trial except on a corporate level. In the U.S. court system, Justice is Relative.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Americans are broke and looking for easy money.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Not many people bashing the judicial system. Many bashing the printed outcome based on what was written in the article.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So, you believe the American system of "No evidence, but let's convict them because they're a foreign company we can't compete with" is any better?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In the US, Toyota's reputation for quality USED TO be inflatable. Today, it's just no longer the case.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My mother-in-law hit the gas instead of the brake in her Chrysler and pinned my son. Luckily he jumped and ended up in a cast instead of a casket. But it had nothing to do with the car....

I very much doubt that Toyota has a problem. In fact, mine never has.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Amazing how so many people know what happened not only in the court room, but with the accident itself.

And I could not agree more. Who needs trial courts to decide these things, anyways. We all just decide what we like, and yell at each other over the internet. Which ever side gets the most thumbs up, wins!

Sounds like great system to me....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In a separate case earlier this month, a jury in California found Toyota was not liable for the death of a woman who was killed when her 2006 Camry apparently accelerated and crashed despite her efforts to stop.

As I mentioned in the article covering THAT verdict, the Associated Press is making a wild assumption when they state what a dead person was trying to do. What did they do... hold a seance and contact the deceased to find out what the driver was trying to do at the time?

When a large number of people report the same problems with the same model cars then something's wrong. I highly doubt that all these people, driving the same model cars, accelerated by mistakenly pushing the gas.

First of all, it was not all the "same model of cars". Various years, makes, and models were involved. The recall involved cars with improperly fitted floor mats that would creep-up and interfere with the accelerator pedal linkage. In THOSE cases, the drivers experienced a stuck accelerator when they took their foot off the gas. The mat was holding the accelerator at whatever level the foot had previously depressed it to. The drivers' next inclination - to stomp on the pedal to free the linkage - only resulted in the accelerator to be held in the fully depressed position by the floor mat. SURPRISE! NOW they had "unexpected" acceleration (even though it was their foot that initially commanded the acceleration.)

As far as people pushing the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal, it happens all the time - ESPECIALLY to drivers in their 80's. Just do a YouTube search or go to the FailBlog site... they usually have a new "driver going through the storefront while trying to park FAIL" video on a monthly basis. I'm going to do a little wild assuming of my own and peek into the brain of Jean Bookout immediately after the accident...

"I think I pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake! Oh no! If the authorities find that out I'll lose my license and at my age I'll probably never regain it! I know! Toyotas are supposed to have acceleration issues so I'll just blame it on that."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am from Oklahoma and I have heard that the floor mats can become rolled-up and keep the gas pedal from going back to the idle position. Most cars can have this problem but this particular model is notorious for it. Whether it is an accelerator problem or floor mat problem, it needs to be re-engineered.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If people have a problem with the due-process system, then why are people complaining that the US are using drones to kill terrorists instead of arresting them and giving them due-process and trial in front of a jury?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

People in the US are still trying to make money off of this?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

They need to install fasteners (or similar solution) on the floor mats that would keep them from bunching-up under the gas pedal. Or eliminate them completely. That has been a reported problem on this model.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If they have drivers license, they should know how to drive and know all the controls of your car in case of emergency. Unlike Lexus ES350, if you want to stop the 2005 Toyota Camry, all you have to do is put the transmission into neutral or kill the engine. It's very simple. It doesn't take rocket scientist to figure this out. The common sense is lacking in U.S. drivers and continue to blame the manufacturer. How do these people ever get a license?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

From the NASA report and Wiki: "Our conclusion is Toyota's problems were mechanical, not electrical." This included sticking accelerator pedals, and pedals caught under floor mats."

A problem not being electrical does not get Toyota off the hook. Its not the nature of the problem, its the fact that there WAS A PROBLEM! That is why Toyota conducted a recall!

put the transmission into neutral or kill the engine. It's very simple. It doesn't take rocket scientist to figure this out.

@sfjp330--Put a gun to a rocket scientist's head and see how well he completes basic problem solving tasks. Panic is a mind killer. To be casually cruising down the road and then find yourself suddenly unable to stop for a stop sign...the first thing anyone will do is attempt to identity and fix the actual problem, not hunt for a work around. Given time and an inability to fix the original problem, they will go for the work around, but by that time they are through the stop sign and crashed into the embankment or another car.

Yeah, there was the fool who was told by police to slip it in neutral as he zoomed down the road at full throttle for like an hour, and refused to do it and had to be stopped physically by the police car. Very different from most of these cases.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ControlFreak

Sure, safety is important for the public, and Toyota had few "drivers error" incidents out of 20 million cars, but what about GM Silverado trucks from the late 70's to 90's? These trucks had side mounted gas tank that killed 1500 people, and GM or U.S. goverment refuse to anything about it until 20 years later?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Now it seems the only place that makes good cars is South Korea

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

How about the idiot calls to 911 where the stupid driver couldn't stop the racing car they were in? I guess placing the car in neutral and then braking didn't come as a solution to someone so stupid they shouldn't be driving. I would not call them idiots, at least since a family died in that crash (Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law Chris Lastrella) but that, and particularly the harrowing phone call, is what started it all. Harrowing -- http://suddenacceleration.com/http://suddenacceleration.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Santee-Car-Crash-911-Call.mp3 It is strange. Mark Saylor was a California Highway Patrol officer, someone who one would think would be used to driving cars at speed, and who would think to put the car into neutral. He was "a well-trained and experienced high-speed driver. " He sounds unstressed, and not in a state of panic. Apparently the Lexus can be put in neutral even at high speed (but its brakes would not be powerful enough to stop the car under full acceleration).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why am I not surprised the TOYOTA just like Ford etc..are always greedy never satisfied and if a few us get killed, sure cover it up, blame it on the drives as long as the SALES go up and $$$ keeps rolling in, right big multinational global greedy corporations??

"Having ugly mug, do not blame a mirror.". A proverb. Do not blame Toyota corp. for your crappy driving skills. Plain and simple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Toyota manufactured a car where the pedals could get stuck, then made a braking system not strong enough to stop the car. When the government wanted to investigate, Toyota stonewalled. It's different from the electronic issue, but it was a problem just the same.

There really should be no Toyota fans here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

There really should be no Toyota fans here.

Nothing to do with being a fan of Toyota or not. It's about fairness and the truth. Nothing else matters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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