A federal jury in Minnesota returned a judgment of nearly $11 million against Toyota Motor Corp. in a case involving an accidentthat killed three people and seriously injured two others.
The jury ruled that a sudden acceleration defect in a 1996 Camry contributed to the accident, Law360 reports. The jury found Toyota 60 percent responsible for the 2006 accident, in which the Camry’s driver rear-ended an Oldsmobile after exiting a highway. The Oldsmobile’s driver and his son were killed instantly killed and his niece became a quadriplegic as a result of the crash. She died 18 months later. The driver’s father and daughter were also injured. The Camry driver was held 40 percent responsible for the crash.
The two families were awarded a combined $11.4 million, though due to the Camry driver’s partial responsibility, his $1.25 million award will be reduced to $750,000, his lawyers said. The Camry driver claimed the car started to accelerate by itself and did not respond when he hit the brake, Law360 reports. He was convicted of negligent homicide in 2008 and served two years in prison before the conviction was overturned in light of Toyota’s recall of later-model cars for acceleration defects.
The plaintiffs argued that the Camry’s accelerator got stuck in a “near wide-open position,” and other Camry owners testified that they experienced similar problems. Toyota argued that there was no defect and that the driver accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes. But an attorney for the plaintiffs said, “The lives lost and the horrible consequences of that tragic day in 2006 are a direct result of this dangerous and defective 1996 Toyota Camry,” according to Law360.