• Nov 9, 2009
Following a statement from the DOT and NHTSA asserting that the unintended acceleration issue potentially involving millions of Toyota vehicles is "not closed," McCuneWright, LLP, a law firm in Southern California, has filed a national class action lawsuit on behalf of all Toyota and Lexus owners that claim to have experienced this phenomenon. Representing the class will be Los Angeles County residents Seong Bae Choi (owner of a 2004 Camry) and Chris Chan Park (owner of a 2008 FJ Cruiser).

According to the suit, Toyota has known about reports of unintended acceleration for years and has received over 2,000 such complaints. Citing statistics from Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., the lawsuit alleges that there have been 16 fatalities and 243 injuries from Toyota and Lexus crashes attributed to runaway vehicles. Toyota attributes these accidents to improperly installed or incorrect floormats that prevent the accelerator pedal from returning to its idle position.

Wright, though, said in a statement, "[N]either driver error nor floormats can explain away many other frightening instances of runaway Toyotas. Until the company acknowledges the real problem and fixes it, we worry that other preventable injuries and deaths will occur." Hit the jump for the official press release from McCuneWright.

[Source: McCuneWright, LLP]

PRESS RELEASE

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Toyota to Correct Sudden Acceleration


REDLANDS, Calif., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The law firm of McCuneWright, LLP, filed a national class action lawsuit yesterday against Toyota Motor Corporation on behalf of Toyota and Lexus owners who have experienced incidents of sudden unintended acceleration.

Los Angeles County residents Seong Bae Choi, the owner of a 2004 Camry and Chris Chan Park, who owns a 2008 FJ Cruiser, will represent the class. Both have experienced multiple instances of sudden unintended acceleration in their respective vehicles, Choi and Park are also among the thousands of Toyota and Lexus owners who have experienced incidents of sudden unintended acceleration while driving their vehicles, and among the millions who are potentially affected by this dangerous defect.

The crash in Santee that claimed four lives in August raised the profile of the issue with the public, Toyota, and federal regulators. California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor was at the wheel of a Lexus ES 350 sedan on Highway 125, when the vehicle inexplicably accelerated to speeds exceeding 100 mph. According to a 911 call of the incident, Saylor was unable to stop the Lexus before it crashed and burst into flames, killing him, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.

This, however, is not the only fatal crash resulting from sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus models. Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., has reported at least 16 fatalities and 243 injuries in crashes involving Toyotas that have been attributed to sudden unintended acceleration. In total, there have been more than 2,000 complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in these vehicles, culled from litigation and consumer-reported complaints to the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Toyota has tried to lay all the blame on floor mats, launching a recall last month affecting approximately four million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. But the evidence suggests that the causes of these uncontrolled acceleration events are likely more complex, involving computer, electronic, and mechanical systems.

"For years, Toyota Motor Corporation has dismissed complaints of sudden acceleration as being the driver's fault," said McCuneWright attorney, David Wright. "But neither driver error nor floor mats can explain away many other frightening instances of runaway Toyotas. Until the company acknowledges the real problem and fixes it, we worry that other preventable injuries and deaths will occur."

Toyota's first response should be immediate changes to their control systems, so drivers can safely stop a sudden unintended acceleration event, Wright said. Toyota's current design does not allow drivers to easily put the vehicle in neutral, apply the brakes, or just turn off the ignition. NHTSA recently highlighted this problem in a Vehicle Research & Test Center report. It noted that Toyota and Lexus drivers could be stymied in an emergency situation because:

* the ignition button on vehicles with a keyless ignition system must be depressed continuously for three seconds when the vehicle is moving before it will turn off the engine;
* the neutral gear position is difficult to find because it requires the driver to move the shifter both laterally and vertically; and
* when the throttle is in the open position it requires a brake pedal force of 150 pounds to stop the vehicle, five times more than the 30 pounds required when the vehicle is operating normally.

In addition, Toyota vehicles are not equipped with a brake-to-idle failsafe, which many other manufacturers already incorporate in their designs. This failsafe brings the engine to idle when both the throttle is in the open position at the same time the brake pedal is being depressed.

"We think this lawsuit is necessary to save lives," Wright said. "Along with other individual lawsuits, the press, consumer groups, and the government, it is our goal to force Toyota to make these changes."


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  • 61 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      unintended acceleration round 2.
      except this time it might be more than the driver to blame.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some of these cases have been filed against Ford, and won! State Troopers have these same problems with sudden acceleration. See the Murrays at www.murrayandmurray.com or www.suddenacceleration.com.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a drive-by-wire problem, specific to hybrids. The whole 'floormat" excuse came from Toyota, and I believe they have a BIG problem on their hands.

      -The Prius uses a CVT; it will not go into "neutral" when the system senses torque; it waits for you to stop applying torque... whoops

      -to turn the motor off you have to hold the starter button down for 3 seconds; I know many Prius owners and none of them knew that. No key!

      -the emergency brake is a push-button-solenoid, which will not activate when you are moving. another whoops

      -many small electric vehicles (bike, golf cart) prohibit the brakes from functioning at the same time as the accelerator; it is possible the braking system is temporarily disabled when there is power at the electric motor. In fact, I think it is likely. When you lightly apply the brakes the pads do not contact the rotor - the motor goes into generator mode and creates drag which slows you down. This charges the batteries. Press the pedal harder and the brakes finally engage. If the motor is powering the vehicle it cannot also be a generator; I think the ECU is getting confused.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Where is Shane From Australia?
      CatherineA
      • 4 Years Ago
      For those of you who still think it's the floor mats: several of these accidents involved cars where the floor mats had been removed. For those who think it's idiot drivers: remember, the guy in the Lexus in CA was a law enforcement officer who drives for a living and was probably not prone to panic. If you spend some time investigating this you'll find Internet posts from 2007 of people who have reported not stuck accelerators, but sudden acceleration without touching the gas pedal at all. Some of these cases also involved strange electrical malfunctions in the vehicle shortly before the event. And reports are coming in that Toyota has had an exceptionally high number of "sudden unintentional acceleration" reports -- significantly more than other manufacturers. Something is going on here that can't be explained by floormats and bad driving, and we're ALL in danger, whether we're driving a Toyota or not.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you were driving a manual (or stick as it's called in the states), you should only press the clutch pedal to stop de "sudden accelerations".
      I think a big part of the problem lies between the seat and the steering wheel.

      (Here in argentina, even my mom drives a manual).
      • 5 Years Ago
      The whole floor mat thing seems a little suspect to me, but I would be shocked if Toyota wasn't concerned about addressing this properly.

      I wonder if any ECU updates are being done while customers are in for routine service...



      http://everyroadtaken.wordpress.com
      gerlinda
      • 2 Years Ago
      my name is gerlinda coleman. i live in severna park maryland and i am 70 jears old. a sudden unintended acceleration happend to me on september 12, 2012 as i was in my parking space in front of giant grocery store, as i pressed al the way down on my brake suddenly the toyota 2007 corolla jumped up like a mad horse knocked in to all the other cars beside me and took off agross to the other side where more cars are parked, finally it ran sideways into an suv that was parked there, somehow i must have gone into shock along that way and did not realize that my engine was still on, someone yelled turn off the engine, when i did the car stopped, the front tires where totally burned off and smoke came out of the engine, the wittnes told me get out
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unintended acceleration? What about Intended Acceleration, Toyota?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I, for one, hope that this doesn't turn into a manufacturer-biased flame war.

      I'm not a fan of class-based litigation, but sometimes that's what you need to stimulate the appropriate response... after all, a REAL recall (part replacement + labor) could cost billions, so there is an incentive to stall or cover-up. The data is there to support a better investigation into this problem. Hopefully they will figure something out before more people die.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There should never be an incentive to stall and cover up when lives are at stake. You are very biased and apologetic for Toyota that is obvious. IF it were something like CD players getting jammed or air conditioning not getting very cold then maybe your tactic could be considered reasonable, but a life threatening issue? No.

        Also, if this were a story about a domestic would the logo pictured above be on a rusting car, or wrecked car?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Im sorry Chris O, but I was not acting like a troll . The impression I got from your comment was that you were trying to be apologetic towards Toyota.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course for you its acceptable for Toyota to stall and cover up but not GM, correct?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boreas :

        Wow. That didn't take long. I didn't even mention manufacturers in my post, but I guess trolls don't care about stuff like that. If you want to know, I don't think it's acceptable for ANY manufacturer to cover-up or stall on an issue affecting public safety.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would be nice if News channels cover this. Just to show nobady is perfect even Toyota.
      Wait "...16 fatalities and 243 injuries from Toyota and Lexus crashes attributed to runaway vehicles. " that should be criminal. Just a thought
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Didn't NHTSA do 6 separate tests in that many years and yet to find a fault with the electronics?"

        Bingo that's the whole point. Could you really get conclusive results by doing merely 6 test in the amount of years??????
        • 5 Years Ago
        It should be criminal that people who don't know what to do when their acceleration pedal gets caught under a rug are allowed to drive.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Didn't NHTSA do 6 separate tests in that many years and yet to find a fault with the electronics?

        Driving talent of US populous is not the greatest. I would go as far as saying it's pretty poor.

        I’m still saying it’s driver error more so than the fault of the electronics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can't the drivers use this technique if the gas/brake pedal is stuck:
      * shift gears down one by one
      * push the clutch pedal
      * use the emergency brake
      * turn off the engine
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