What is unintended acceleration?
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. announced Jan. 26, 2010 that it is suspending the manufacturing and sales of many of its bestselling models in the U.S. following a series of safety recalls involving millions of vehicles. The recall includes both Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
At the end of September 2009, Toyota announced that it would recall nearly 4 million vehicles that, the company says, are at risk of accelerating unexpectedly because of a floor mat problem. Both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a safety warning on September 29, urging owners of several Toyota and Lexus vehicle models to remove the driver side floor mat immediately.
According to the announcement, the gas pedal can become jammed on the floor mat, causing the vehicle to accelerate unexpectedly.
On January 22, Toyota announced another recall of 2.3 million American cars and trucks, saying that the gas pedal mechanisms could wear out over time and cause the accelerator to stick or grow unresponsive.
Both acceleration-related recalls also affect hundreds of thousands of Toyota vehicles in Canada and millions in Europe.
Making matters even worse, on Feb. 5 Toyota announced a third recall that includes more than 300,000 third-generation 2010 Prius hybrid vehicles, and a planned recall for an additional 14,500 2010 Lexus HS250h vehicles. The Prius recall is a result of numerous complaints that brakes in these vehicles do not work properly, and can momentarily stop working after the car hits a bump. Toyota is recalling the Prius for a software update for the Antilock Brake System (ABS). The ABS software in the Lexus also will be updated.
List of recalled Toyota vehicles
(current as of January 2010)
According to Toyota’s official web site, vehicles included in the recall for either floor mat or accelerator problems are:
- 2007-2010 Camry
- 2009-2010 Corolla
- 2005-2010 Avalon
- 2004-2009 Prius
- 2005-2010 Tacoma
- 2007-2010 Tundra
- 2009-2010 RAV4
- 2009-2010 Matrix
- 2008-2010 Highlander
- 2008-2010 Sequoia
- 2009-2010 Venza
- 2007-2010 Lexus ES350
- 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350
- 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe
How might unintended acceleration affect me?
The seriousness of the problem was tragically demonstrated in August 2009 when four family members in a Lexus ES 350 that was loaned to them from their dealership soared off an embankment, rolled several times, and burned. All four occupants were killed. Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, called 911 about a minute before the crash frantically reporting that the car was accelerating uncontrollably and that the brakes were unresponsive. Witnesses say the car topped speeds of 120 mph before it crashed.
Beasley Allen shareholder Graham Esdale, who has become a leading attorney in the investigation of cases involving runaway Toyotas, says that Toyota is concealing the truth. “It’s not a sticking accelerator pedal. Just like it wasn’t the floor mats. They are doing everything they can to direct attention away from the electronics,” Esdale alleges.
A new scientific study published by Quality Control Systems Corporation of Crownsville Maryland, on Feb. 3, 2010, has found substantial evidence that the sudden, unintended acceleration problem that has plagued so many vehicle models for years is linked to Toyota electronic throttle control system (ETCS-i). The QCS report found that, contrary to Toyota’s claim, there were actually some very strong indications that the electronic throttle system is the more probable cause of some of Toyota’s unintended acceleration cases. Read the full report.
A similar report was released just two days later, on Feb. 5, by Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. (SRS), based in Rehoboth, Maryland. The study, authored by Sean Kane, Ellen Liberman, Tony DiViesti and Felix Click, was conducted on behlaf of consumers and the injured individuals, families and loved ones of the fatal victims of Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration. Among its findings, this study indicates there is ample evidence to suggest that neither Toyota nor NHTSA have identified all the causes of SUA in Toyota vehicles, nor identified all the vehicles affected by this problem. The study also suggests the electronic throttle control assembly and associated sensors must be considered as a possible source. Read the full SRS Report.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy Committee, expressed dissatisfaction with responses given by Toyota Motor Corp., during a special committee meeting during the week of Jan. 25. At issue with committee members is when Toyota representatives first learned about the serious safety defects and what actions the company took to investigate and resolve the hazards. Waxman has sent letters to both Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, and David Strickland, head of the NHTSA, giving them a deadline of February 12 to supply records dating back to 2000. Read the Committee Letters.
What can I do if I have been injured as the result of unintended acceleration?
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or if a loved one has died as the result of unintended acceleration, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!
Beasley Allen is handling individual product liability lawsuits where deaths and disabling injuries are involved. Attorney Graham Esdale is the lead attorney on a case filed on behalf of the family of Barbara Scwarz and Jean Bookout in Oklahoma in the case of a Toyota Unintended Acceleration that resulted in death. Read the complaint.
Additionally, on Feb. 5, 2010, Beasley Allen filed a complaint seeking class action status on behalf of over 5 million Toyota owners whose vehicles have been recalled by Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida against Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. The complaint charges Toyota with breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and breach of the covenant of good faith and alleges that Toyota has downplayed or dismissed owner complaints of sudden unintended acceleration, blaming it on driver error. Read the Class Action complaint.