Birmingham, AL – Birmingham is now the site of an investigation into a fatal wreck involving a Toyota Camry. Attorneys are suing the automaker over an accident that killed one elderly woman and seriously injured another.

“There’s a problem out there and these cars are killing people,” said attorney Cole Portis.

Family photos show the joy Jean Bookout and Barbara Schwarz shared for life. But in 2007, their lives changed.

Their attorneys say Bookout’s Toyota Camry sped out of control on an Oklahoma highway.

“She’s applying the brakes. she’s pulling up the emergency brake and she’s leaving 150 yards of skid marks,” said Portis.

Portis says the car slammed into an embankment, killing Schwarz and seriously injuring Bookout. Now, he represents their families in suing Toyota.

Portis says Toyota initially said problems were caused by floor mats, then sticking gas pedals. But he says he believes a computer defect is causing uncontrolled acceleration.

“The difference between Toyota and other manufacturers is drastic in terms of the types of problems,” Portis said.

The Camry is at Weil Wrecker Service in Birmingham. An investigator is looking into the crash and preserving evidence. Portis’s investigator says the proof is in the airbags, both in tact having never deployed. They argue that shows the brake never relayed Bookout’s message to stop, causing the women to hit the embankment at full force.

The lawsuit asks for compensation for the families, but Portis says, more importantly, he wants answers.

“What did Toyota know? When did they know it and what have they done about it,” he asked.

Toyota would not take questions but released a statement saying, “Toyota does not comment on pending litigation and ongoing investigations or the number of lawsuits filed. It is very important that a full and complete investigation is allowed to take its course. Any speculation is premature and should be avoided.”

Portis says he expects the case to go to trial in Summer 2011.



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