Monday, October 28, 2013

Oklahoma Toyota ruling notable for arguing electronic defect caused acceleration.

The AP (10/26, Murphy) has continuing coverage of the decision Thursday by an Oklahoma jury to find Toyota liable in its crash case involving “a sudden unintended acceleration,” awarding $3 million to the driver and the victim’s family. Yesterday, Judge Patricia Parrish made the announcement that “the parties reached a deal that eliminated the need for the second stage of the trial over punitive damages,” while Toyota issued a statement on how “it disagreed with the verdict, and vowed to ‘defend our products vigorously at trial in other legal venues.’” As for the ruling itself, the article points out that the decision holds some amount of precedent because this was the “first case” in which plaintiff presented the argument that the “car’s electronics – in this case the software connected to the Camry’s electronic throttle-control system – caused the unintended acceleration.”
        The New York Times (10/26, Trop, Subscription Publication, 9.61M) reports, the lawyer for both plaintiff parties, J. Cole Portis, commented, “Toyota’s conduct from the time the electronic throttle control system was designed has been shameful...We appreciate that the jury had the courage to let Toyota and the public know that Toyota was reckless.” Like the AP coverage, the New York Times indicates the novelty of the ruling, with University of Southern California law professor Gregory Keating said the verdict “suggests that absent specific evidence of another cause, the default conclusion is that sudden acceleration is caused by a defect in the car for which Toyota is responsible.”
        Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times (10/26, Hirsch, Bensinger, 3.07M) even says that the ruling “could embolden attorneys nationwide” in search of recreating the results in “hundreds of similar cases.” It also observes how in the three other similar jury cases where Toyota won, “none alleged the software defect that was in Barr’s testimony.”
        CNN Money (10/26, Isidore) also reports. 

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