- Hacking software could put ‘zombie drone army’ in user’s hands
- Support for stricter gun laws drops: poll
- 10 whales dead, 41 others stranded in Everglades
- John Boehner faces bipartisan pressure to allow gay-rights vote
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over ‘ill-judged’ comments about Sarah Palin
- Rep. Duncan Hunter: While Obama prays for Iranian change, U.S. should ready its nukes
- Best company ever? Veteran Beer Co. exists to employ vets, provide quality beer
- Iran official: Sanctions ‘utterly failed’ to stop nuclear program
- ‘Black Santa’ display at IU sparks student outrage
- Joint Chiefs chair Dempsey: Pentagon, VA too slow in merging medical systems
First Toyota sudden-acceleration trial set to begin
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Noriko Uno was afraid of driving fast, often avoiding the freeway and taking the same route every day from her Upland home to and from her family’s sushi restaurant. She put only 10,000 miles on her 2006 Camry in about four years.
So when her car unexpectedly accelerated to speeds up to 100 mph on a street with a posted limit of 30, the 66-year-old bookkeeper did everything she could to slow down, stepping on the brake pedal and pulling the emergency handle as she swerved to avoid hitting other vehicles.
Uno was killed when her car went onto a median and struck a telephone pole and a tree.
Her case is the first to go to trial in a proceeding that could determine whether Toyota Motor Corp. should be held liable for sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles — a claim made by motorists that plagued the Japanese automaker and led to lawsuits, settlements, and recalls of millions of its cars and SUVs.
“Toyota decided to make safety an option instead of a standard on their vehicles,” said attorney Garo Mardirossian, who is representing Uno’s husband and son. “They decided to save a few bucks, and by doing so, it cost lives.”
Toyota has said there was no defect in Uno’s Camry. The automaker has blamed such crashes on accelerators that got stuck, floor mats that trapped the gas pedal and driver error. The company has settled some wrongful-death cases and agreed to pay more than $1 billion to resolve lawsuits in which owners said the value of their vehicles plummeted after Toyota’s recalls because of sudden-acceleration concerns.
The Uno trial, starting with jury selection Monday, is expected to last two months. The proceeding represents the first of the bellwether cases in state courts, which are chosen by a judge to help predict the potential outcome of other lawsuits making similar claims.
Other cases expected to go to trial in state courts this year include one in Oklahoma and another in Michigan. There are more than 80 cases filed in state courts.
The Toyota litigation has gone on parallel tracks in state and federal court with both sides agreeing to settlements so far. A federal judge in Orange County, Calif., is dealing with both wrongful death and economic loss lawsuits that have been consolidated. He’s expected to give final approval to the economic loss settlement next week.
Federal lawsuits contend that Toyota’s electronic throttle control system was defective and caused vehicles to surge unexpectedly. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have deposed Toyota employees, reviewed software code and pored over thousands of documents.
Toyota has denied the allegation, and neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor NASA found evidence of electronic problems. A trial in one of the lead cases is scheduled for November.
The Uno trial likely will focus on why Toyota didn’t have a mechanism to override the accelerator if the gas and brake pedals are pressed simultaneously in Camrys sold in the U.S. The automaker put the brake override system in its European fleet, Mr. Mardirossian said.
“We are confident the evidence will show that a brake override system would not have prevented this accident and that there was no defect in Mrs. Uno’s vehicle,” the automaker said in a statement about the upcoming trial.
Legal observers said Uno’s attorneys won’t necessarily have to prove what was wrong with the vehicle, but show that the accident could have been prevented with a brake override system.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Puerto Rico caravan honoring Paul Walker ends in 6 drunken-driving arrests, 72 speeding tickets
- First Dog Sunny knocks down Ashtyn Gardner; Michelle Obama yanks leash
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over 'ill-judged' comments about Sarah Palin
- EDITORIAL: Motor City meltdown
- Apple wins facial recognition patent for iPhone 6
- HURT: Postal Service misses address by a whole continent
- Allen West warns Obamas backdoor gun control is moving forward
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- Issa: FBI impeding inquiry into IRS targeting of conservative groups
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Despite cynicism about the law, it can provide you justice, protection, and ensure your rights.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch