Surprise, surprise. Toyota is getting sued. Just this past Monday, a grieving Texas widower filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota, claiming that a defective accelerator pedal in a 2009 Corolla caused his wife’s death. There have been about 10 lawsuits filed in the U.S. and Canada so far for injuries allegedly caused by the sticking-pedal problem.
Some of Toyota’s most popular models, such as Corolla, Camry, Tundra and Rav, are subject to a Toyota recall, mainly for vehicles built between 2008 and today. But even as Toyota has already recalled about 6.5 million vehicles, some people are getting hurt, and they are suing.
When you manufacture a car whose pedal tends to stick in the down position, either because it just sticks, or because a dangerously designed floor mat catches it and makes it stick, you should expect to get sued. Under New York products liability (defective products) case law, which is similar in most states, a manufacturer or distributor of a defective product can be held liable even if it was careful in designing and manufacturing the product. The only thing that counts, really, is if the product ends up, for whatever reason, being “unreasonably dangerous”. If it is, then the manufacturer and distributors must generally pay for the harm in a New York defective product liability lawsuit.
An accellerator pedal that stick is sure a good candidate for “unreasonably dangerous”.
But still, I was feeling sorry for Toyota. After all, they gave us the Prius, a nice green-step forward. And they made good, reliable cars.
Then one of Toyota’s former lawyers, Dmitrios Biller, hit the news waves claiming that Toyota had tried to suppress evidence of the pedal-sticking defects, and that it had ignored safety concerns that could have prevented fatal accidents. (Sound familiar? How about tobacco litigation?)
But even then I was still in Toyota’s corner, at least a little. Weren’t they the little guys of the 60’s who made it big in the 80’s through sheer guts and competitive spirit?
But then Biller, the whistle-blowing former Toyota lawyer, told ABC News that “Toyota in Japan does not have any respect for our legal system. They did not have any respect for our laws”.
Now that got to me. Our U.S. legal system not good enough for you, you say? Well, then, we’ll just teach you a lesson with some good’ol U.S. lawsuits.