Class Action Lawsuit Filed over Toyota Acceleration Problems

Two California drivers have filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota over design defects that allegedly caused over 2,000 incidents where Toyota and Lexus cars to suddenly accelerated to high speeds. These Toyota acceleration problems have resulted in 16 deaths and 243 injuries.

Seong Bae Choi and Chris Chan Park of Los Angeles filed the lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court. Choi owns a 2004 Camry, while Park owns a 2008 FJ Cruiser. Both drivers have experienced sudden acceleration problems.

Toyota previously issued a recall involving 3.8 million vehicles, claiming that defective floor mats could cause the acceleration pedal to get stuck. However, this class action lawsuit alleges that a throttle control system defect is also behind the acceleration problems. The plaintiffs say that the electronic throttle control system, ETCS-i, has caused at least some of the accidents. The plaintiffs allege that the original design included a safety feature to prevent sudden acceleration but that the company decided to produce cars without the safety feature beginning in 2001. The class action lawsuit calls for a recall of all affected models with defective ETCS-i systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) previously reported that the floor mats accounted for the acceleration problems and that they did not find an electronic problems. However, the NHTSA recently said that this matter is not closed. A recent NHTSA statement announced, “Toyota has announced a safety recall involving 3.8 million vehicles in which the accelerator pedal may become stuck at high vehicle speeds due to interference by the driver’s side floor mat, which is obviously a very dangerous situation. Toyota has written to vehicle owners stating that it has decided that a safety defect exists in their vehicles and asking owners to remove all floor mats while the company is developing a remedy. We believe consumers should follow Toyota's recommendation to address the most immediate safety risk. However, removal of the mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles. NHTSA is discussing with Toyota what the appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies will be. This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the vehicle defect by providing a suitable remedy.”

The acceleration problems have gained more press exposure following an accident in California which killed a state trooper and three of his family members. The 911 recording from his brother-in-law in the backseat has been widely played. In this incident, a Lexus accelerated to 120 miles per hour before crashing and bursting into flames. Witnesses reported that the car’s tires were on fire minutes before the accident. This suggests that the driver was hitting the brakes.

If you own a Toyota or Lexus - especially if it was made in 2001 or later - be aware of the acceleration problem. If your car suddenly accelerates, do not turn off the engine. This could cause you to lose power steering. Put your foot on the brake and shift the car into neutral. Keep your eye on the road as the car slows down. Turn off the engine once the vehicle stops.

If you have questions about your legal rights after a car accident, contact an experienced Atlanta auto accident attorney. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.