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Toyota Wins First Sudden Acceleration Trial

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Between 2009 and 2011, over 8 million Toyota vehicles were subject to sudden acceleration recalls, which the company attributed to floor mats becoming lodged in pedal wells and mechanical sticking.

The first of the Toyota sudden acceleration lawsuits wrapped up last Friday when a federal jury in New York found that the accident was attributable to driver error--not a design defect.

Though there are still hundreds of Toyota sudden acceleration lawsuits waiting for trial, Friday's verdict is not necessarily indicative of their outcome.

In 2008, Dr. Amir Sitafalwalla filed a lawsuit against Toyota after his 2005 Scion suddenly accelerated and crashed into a tree, reports Bloomberg. He claimed that a faulty electronic throttle system or a jammed floor mat caused the accident.

Just prior to trial, the presiding judge threw out all evidence relating to electronics, notes The New York Times. Floor mats were the only remaining issue.

Toyota presented evidence, including displays and video, showing that the car's design made it physically impossible for a floor mat to become lodged in the pedal, reports Bloomberg. The jury agreed.

In addition to this verdict, in February the NTSB and NASA released a report stating that Toyota sudden acceleration issues are not attributable to electronics, but only to floor mats and mechanical defects.

The important thing to remember here is that this trial and the government report don't rule out Toyota liability altogether.

The fact is that there were both floor mat and mechanical issues with Toyota vehicles. If a plaintiff can prove that one of the two caused their sudden acceleration, it's likely that Toyota will be held liable.

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