Toyota unintended-acceleration lawsuit goes to jury


Attorneys wrapped up arguments Wednesday in a $20-million lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. that arose from a 2009 wreck that killed an Upland woman.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury is to decide whether Toyota was negligent by not including a particular safety device on Noriko Uno’s 2006 Camry, or whether the crash resulted from her poor driving.

Uno’s car accelerated unexpectedly, heading the wrong way down a street before hitting a telephone pole and a tree.


In the trial, Garo Mardirossian, the attorney for Uno’s heirs, contended that design flaws including lack of a brake override system in the Camry led to Uno’s death.

However, Vincent Galvin Jr., an auto product liability attorney representing Toyota, argued that an override system would not have prevented the crash that killed Uno. He said the wreck was most likely caused by Uno mistaking the gas pedal for the car’s brakes.

The case is expected to set the direction for hundreds of similar lawsuits against the automaker in connection with incidents of unintended acceleration.

Last week, Ford Motor Co. won a Torrance Superior Court lawsuit that also alleged the automaker was obligated to include a safety device that wasn’t sold with a vehicle. A jury ruled for the automaker after deliberating for an hour, rejecting a claim that Ford’s F-150 pickup truck should have been equipped with an inflatable seat belt.

The case brought by Isaura Garcia and Celia Morando arose from a Compton wreck nearly three years ago. In that crash, Garcia pressed down on the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal while exiting a freeway, causing the truck to hit a guard rail, a Honda Civic, a Lexus LS400 and a utility pole.

The occupants of the truck survived but sustained multiple injuries.

Attorneys Steven Smelser and Raymond Hua of the Yukevich, Cavanaugh law firm successfully argued that the crash was caused by the driver and that the vehicle had adequate safety systems that protected the plaintiffs.



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