Product Liability

California men file sudden acceleration lawsuit against Toyota

“Neither driver error nor floor mats can explain away many other frightening instances of runaway Toyotas,” said an attorney for two men who filed a lawsuit against the car manufacturer in a California federal court on November 5. “Until the company acknowledges the real problem and fixes it, we worry that other preventable injuries and deaths will occur,” the attorney for the men said.

Toyota and Lexus owners have lodged more than 2,000 complaints of sudden and unintended acceleration against Toyota, according to the lawsuit. Toyota’s unintended acceleration problem has caused numerous accidents, resulting in 16 deaths and 243 injuries, the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs, Seong Bae Choi and Chris Chan Park of Los Angeles, filed their lawsuit as a class action, seeking to represent the owners of all Toyota and Lexus models affected by the unintended acceleration problem and included in Toyota’s latest recall.

According to the lawsuit, Toyota “failed to incorporate failsafe measures” that allow drivers to maintain control of the vehicles in an unintended acceleration situation. The plaintiffs allege that the acceleration problem is the result of faulty electronics.

In the affected cars, acceleration is regulated by an electronic throttle control system called the ETCS-i.

The plaintiffs also claim that Toyota could have implemented smart pedal technology that would “automatically reduce the engine to idle when the brakes are being applied while the throttle is an open position.” Such technology is standard in almost all German-made cars and Chryslers.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration hasn’t adopted a very clear stance on the issue. The agency says that it hasn’t found sufficient evidence of electronic defects in the cars it has analyzed, but that it has found evidence that floor mats could jam the accelerator pedals. Yet when it denied a request to further investigate Lexus ES models, the agency said that doing so did not “constitute a finding by the NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.”