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Oklahoma Jury Finds Toyota Liable in Sudden Acceleration Case, $3 Million Awarded, Punitive Damages Possible

An Oklahoma jury decided Thursday that Toyota Motor Corp. is liable for a 2007 crash caused by sudden acceleration. The crash left one woman dead and another individual seriously injured. The jury awarded the driver of the car who was injured in the accident, Jean Bookout, $1.5 million in damages. The jury awarded the family of Barbara Schwarz, the seventy-year-old woman who died in the crash, $1.5 million as well. The jury also released its decision that Toyota acted with “reckless disregard” for the rights of others. This decision set up the second phase of the trial dealing with punitive damages that is scheduled to begin today. District Judge Patricia Parrish ordered attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant not to discuss the case publicly until after the punitive phase of the trial concludes.

Six years ago, eighty-two-year-old Bookout was driving a 2005 Camry when it sped through an intersection near Eufaula, Oklahoma, and crashed into an embankment. According to the attorneys for Bookout and Schwarz’s family there was a defect in the car’s electronic throttle-control system that caused the car to accelerate unexpectedly. Bookout’s attorney contends that Toyota was well-aware of the problem, but refused to inform the public. Attorney Cole Portis stated to jurors, “We believe Toyota’s conduct from the time the electronic throttle-control system was developed has been shameful.”

Toyota argued the crash occurred because of driver error. Attorney Randolph Bibb Jr. stated, “Sometimes people make mistakes while driving their cars.” Bibb presented the theory that Bookout mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, and by the time she realized what she had done, it was too late to avoid the tragic accident. In 2012, Toyota settled for more than $1 billion to end hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses due to sudden acceleration. That settlement did not dispose of wrongful death and injury cases and hundreds more of those cases still remain. As these cases have developed, Toyota has blamed sudden acceleration crashes on driver error, stuck accelerators, or floor mats that trapped the gas pedal. Toyota continues to deny allegations that the electronic throttle-control system was defective and the cause of hundreds of accidents. Neither the National Transportation Safety Administration nor NASA have found evidence of electronic defects.

Okla. jury: Toyota liable in acceleration crash, October 24, 2013

Braking and acceleration systems are a vital part of a safe vehicle and, unfortunately, consumers are often unaware of problems with these systems until it is too late. Severe injuries or death can occur when a car unexpectedly accelerates and the driver is unable to effectively employ the brake to bring the vehicle back down to a safe speed. It is crucial that consumers are alerted to defects in their vehicles as soon as possible. The Coral Gables consumer advocates at the Friedland | Carmona are automobile accident lawyers who have over twenty years of experience helping clients recover compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages. If you or a loved one has been injured in an unsafe vehicle or any other type of motor vehicle accident, call the Miami personal injury attorneys at the Friedland | Carmona today. Don’t hesitate as the law places strict time limits on these types of claims! Call (305) 661-2008 today for your free consultation.

The Miami product liability lawyers at the Friedland | Carmona handle all types of motor vehicle accidents throughout the state of Florida, including Boca Raton, Homestead, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Hialeah, Kendall, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The Friedland | Carmona handles all types of personal injury cases, including wrongful death, defective products, medical malpractice, slip and falls and construction site injuries.

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