Jury clears Toyota in Uno case

by Walter Olson on October 13, 2013

“A jury cleared Toyota Motor Corp. of liability Thursday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Southern California woman killed in a 2009 crash that occurred amid widespread reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota vehicles.” Despite regular hints in places like the Los Angeles Times that undetected electronic defects might be to blame for sudden acceleration, lawyers for Uno’s family went to trial on the more prosaic theory that Toyota was wrong not to have included a brake override system in the car as an added help to drivers who might be unable to correct a depressed gas pedal. A jury disagreed. [AP/NBC Los Angeles; L.A. Times]

{ 9 comments }

1 Max Kennerly 10.13.13 at 8:41 am

I’m not deep in the Toyota litigation, but it’s my understanding the Uno case wasn’t billed by the plaintiffs as a bellwether for sudden acceleration as a whole, it’s been a “brake override” case for some time. Media outlets that reported otherwise were simply wrong. There’s a couple real sudden acceleration cases nearing trial.

2 Walter Olson 10.13.13 at 8:45 am

At least for certain values of “real.”

3 Scott 10.13.13 at 8:56 am

Yeas ago I was talking to a friend of mine that works for a large car company doing controls. I said, “Toyota’s problem is that they didn’t have a brake override.” He said, “None of the car companies have a brake override.”

4 Max Kennerly, Esq. (@MaxKennerly) 10.13.13 at 8:12 pm

Walter: LOL. Point taken.

Either way, IIRC there’s one more starting this month and then two in November, and I think at least one is about the electronic control module. They might be about the floor mat, though.

5 DensityDuck 10.14.13 at 12:21 am

On the one hand, it’s pretty stupid to think that car companies should expect that drivers will actually step on the gas and the brake simultaneously.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some funny stuff, and I’ve heard about funnier. People do weird things when they’re under unanticipated and unfamiliar stress, like suddenly their lane is ending and there’s a barrier but there’s cars and they can’t merge and their lane is ending AND THERE’S A BARRIER BUT THERE’S CARS and now they’ve driven straight into the wall at 50 miles an hour.

6 William Nuesslein 10.14.13 at 7:00 am

Holy cow, it took the jury 5 days to figure out an open and shut case. At least they came to the correct conclusion

7 MattS 10.14.13 at 11:12 am

The brake override idea is stupid. From what I have read the breaks in nearly all cars are strong enough to bring the car to a complete stop even with the throttle wide open barring mechanical issues or overly sworn brake pads.

8 Aric 10.14.13 at 3:01 pm

MattS: Indeed. Here’s a simple question: Which can your car do faster? 0-60, or 60-0?

9 VehDyn 10.21.13 at 6:48 pm

Max: While it is true that the final plaintiff theory for the Uno case dropped all theories of electronic induced throttle opening, that was the main claim when the lawsuit was first filed. It was only after facts emerged about the precipitating accident and evidence that Mrs Uno’s foot was on the accelerator when the collision occurred that a new theory emerged that was just ad implausible as all of the cosmic ray and EMI nonsense.

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