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Number of Cylinders: 6
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Sub Model: FJ40
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Auto blogFri, 11 Oct 2013 15:59:00 EST
Toyota has already paid out millions and billions of dollars in settlements surrounding unintended acceleration, but the first lawsuit in the matter, which headed to a California court in July, has reached a verdict. Following the 2009 death of Noriko Uno, whose 2006 Camry was hit by another car and then sped out of control before crashing into a tree, the jury found that Toyota was not at fault in the crash.
Even though the 2006 Camry (shown above) wasn't involved in any of the unintended acceleration-related recalls and it was not equipped with a brake override, Automotive News reports that the jury's verdict says there was no defect in the car and actually blames the entire incident on the driver that ran into Uno's car - to the tune of $10 million. The accident started when the other driver ran a stop sign and hit Uno's car, and the report says that medical conditions (including diabetes) caused Uno to fail to stop her Camry.
The AN article also states that this lawsuit was a bellwether case for around 85 other personal-injury and wrongful-death suits against Toyota, but there are still many impending suits across the country. Scroll down for an official statement on this particular case from Toyota.
Toyota is re-notifying owners and expanding its Takata airbag inflator recall for some regions. The renewed campaign covers 247,000 examples of the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC430 that are located in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. All of the models come from the 2001-2004 model years and have potentially faulty Takata-made inflators on the front passenger side. According to the company, testing shows the problem warrants "immediate action," and its press release says, "this action intensifies Toyota's efforts to reach customers and remedy previously recalled vehicles, and a small number of newly included vehicles."
According to Toyota, it submitted some recalled inflators to Takata for testing, and it found a high probability of rupturing in high humidity areas. The automaker said it had no reports yet of injuries or fatalities related to the problem.
This is Toyota's third inflator recall this year. In June, it called in for repair the same vehicles from the 2003-2005 model years in high-humidity areas, and it conducted a separate campaign nationwide for the parts in additional models. In April 2013, it also announced a fix campaign for 1.73-million vehicles worldwide for the same issue.
According to those all-too-nebulous "people familiar with the matter," Toyota is close to a settlement with the US federal government to end a criminal probe over its long-running unintended acceleration fiasco. Though Toyota has never admitted guilt, the deal could reportedly crest a billion dollars and would likely include a criminal deferred prosecution agreement, and while we're not legal experts, The Wall Street Journal explains that such a deal would "[force Toyota] to accept responsibility while avoiding the potentially crippling consequences of federal criminal convictions."
The report from WSJ also suggests that Toyota is facing charges that it "made false or incomplete disclosures" to various government agencies regarding possible defects to its cars. Such charges may include mail and wire fraud violations. Toyota has already paid out fines totaling $66.2 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it failed to report safety defects in a timely manner.
This deal with the federal government is not related to the billion-dollar class-action settlement reached with Toyota owners over falling vehicle values, and it's also different from the roughly 400 lawsuits still in courts alleging personal injury of wrongful death due to cases of unintended acceleration. In other words, don't expect to hear the end of such courtroom verdicts and settlements anytime soon...