An Oklahoma judge found Toyota liable for a 2007 unintended acceleration accident involving a 2005 Toyota Camry, which resulted in the death of the passenger and an injured driver.
The decision represents the first court loss for the Japanese carmaker in an unintended acceleration case. Toyota will pay $1.5 million compensation to Jean Bookout, the driver injured in the crash, and $1.5 million to the family of Barbara Schwartz, the passenger who died. The verdict comes shortly after Toyota won a bellwether case in California.
The jury also decided that Toyota acted with “reckless disregard” for the public’s safety. However, said Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish, jurors won’t be deliberating additional punitive damages. That’s because the plaintiff’s lawyers said they had reached a settlement with Toyota for an undisclosed amount that would cover both the damages and the potential punitive payout.
Despite the verdict, Toyota continues to deny it was at fault. “While we strongly disagree with the verdict, we are satisfied that the parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case. We remain committed to providing our customers with safe and reliable vehicles, and we will continue to defend our products vigorously at trial in other legal venues,” read the company’s press release issued on Friday.
Toyota has already agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle a class-action suit by car owners who saw the resale value of their cars decline. A little more than half of the sum was spent on installing a brake override system in affected vehicles. However, that settlement does not cover cases that resulted in personal injury or death. According to financial filings, Toyota still faces more than 700 unintended acceleration cases.
By Dan Mihalascu
Story References: CNN
Thanks to George for the tip!