Toyota won their case over unintended acceleration in court on Friday. The lawsuit started in 2009, when a fatal crash of a 2006 Toyota Camry occurred during the height of the unintended acceleration debacle.
The family of Noriko Uno, the driver who was killed in the crash, claimed the crash could have been avoided if the car had a brake override system. Los Angeles Superior Court chose the case as a bellwether by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in the Judicial Council Coordinated Preceeding (JCCP).
After four and a half days of deliberation, the jury decided that Toyota was not at fault for the accident, and was not required to pay the damages requested by the Uno family. Lawyers representing Toyota said Uno may have mistaken the gas pedal as the brake, and cited the fact that there have been no recorded cases of error in the electronic throttle system. The jury ruled against the codefendant, who hit the vehicle of Uno which led up to the fatal crash. The jury ruled for the codefendant to pay $10 million in damages to the Uno family.
A statement from Toyota read:
"We sympathize with anyone involved in an accident involving on of our vehicles as well as the family and friends of Noriko Uno. Regarding the verdict, we are gratified that the jury concluded the design of the 2006 Camry did not contribute to this unfortunate accident, affirming 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. As an important bellwether in these consolidated state proceedings, we believe this verdict sets a significant benchmark by helping further confirm that Toyota vehicles are safe with or without brake override."
The bellwether trial sets a precedent for other similar lawsuits. Toyota has been tied up in dozens of court cases since the alleged unintended acceleration accidents began, and winning the bellwether trial could mean they have an easier time making it through the other cases.
Following the numerous unintended acceleration lawsuits, Toyota released a recall for the 2.7 million affected vehicles. Toyota installed brake override systems in all of the vehicles free of charge. Toyota provided payments for people who had already sold their cars, and those ineligible for the system. The lawsuits and recalls have been expensive for Toyota, who have already performed recalls and paid reparations in federal cases.