Consumer Fraud

State Farm sues Toyota in Texas to recover sudden-acceleration crash payments

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is suing Toyota Motor Sales in an effort to recoup a claim it paid to a policyholder whose 2007 Camry suddenly accelerated as she was attempting to park. The insurance company alleges that Toyota installed a faulty accelerator pedal in the plaintiff’s car, causing it to surge forward and collide with a building, causing several thousands of dollars in damage. 

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Victoria, Texas, states that the plaintiff was attempting to maneuver into a parking space at an office building when the accelerator pedal became stuck, causing the vehicle to surge forward. The Camry crashed through the side of the building and came to a stop within its hall and conference room, according to the Victoria Advocate.

The October 2009 crash caused about $50 thousand in vehicle and property damages, which State Farm paid for under the plaintiff’s policy. The plaintiff, her husband, and people inside the building were uninjured in the incident, which happened weeks after Toyota launched a massive recall for faulty driver-side floor mats, saying they could jam the accelerator pedal in the open position and cause the vehicle to accelerate suddenly and unintentionally.

The recall was later expanded to include millions more vehicles for faulty throttle assemblies that could cause vehicles to surge forward unexpectedly or maintain speed after the pedal was released.

Many automotive and safety experts believe the flaws that cause sudden unintended acceleration in several Toyota models exist in the vehicles’ electronic system. Both NASA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have attempted to disprove the allegation that electronics are to blame, though independent analyses and engineering studies have found strong evidence to support the claim.

According to the Victoria Advocate, Toyota filed a formal response denying liability for the crash.

“TMS (Toyota Motor Sales) would state that the incident in question and any resulting damages were the result of negligent acts and/or omissions of other parties or persons beyond TMS’s control,” the petition stated.

The Victoria Advocate