Last week, Toyota faced their first jury trial for unintended acceleration of a Toyota product. The plaintiff, Amir Sitafalwalla, claimed that his 2005 Scion accelerated out of control when he attempted to shift the car into park, ultimately getting up close and personal with a tree. His attorney tried to argue that an unsecured floor mat was to blame, despite the fact that the Scion in question was excluded from the floor mat entrapment recall. His attorney also unsuccessfully tried to blame the Scion’s Electronic Throttle Control System, despite having no evidence to back up his allegations. In a rare display of courtroom sanity, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict that favored the defendant, Toyota.
While the victory for the Japanese automaker is significant, I’d stop short of saying it sets a precedence. The car in question was never part of recalls for unintended acceleration, and the accident itself dated back to 2005. A lawsuit wasn’t even filed until 2008, which is unusual in cases where a victim has the public interest at heart. Given the virtual disappearance of ongoing unintended acceleration claims against Toyota, I’d like to think the hysteria is largely behind us. We’ll know for sure the next time a suit against Toyota for UA is brought before a jury.
Source: Left Lane News