The family of a woman who died when her Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated and crashed, despite her efforts to stop it, has sued the Toyota Motor Corp. In opening statement the attorney for the plaintiff’s family asked the jury to return a verdict in excess of $20 million.
This case involves the death of Noriko Uno, who died in her Camry in 2009. This is the first case of this sort to go to trial in state court. The case was filed in Los Angeles County, Calif.
Toyota had recalled millions of its vehicles worldwide after it was reported by its drivers that some of its vehicles were surging without notice. The company has agreed to pay $1 billion in other related lawsuits.
The attorney for the Uno family, Garo Mardirossian, said Toyota was at fault for the death of Uno because it failed to install or chose not to install an override safety system in the 2006 model car that she was driving.
Mr. Mardirossian said Toyota made a decision to leave out the brake override system in the 2006 Camry.
The jury was told that Toyota had an obligation to warn customers what to do if an accelerator became stuck, such as placing the car in neutral.
Witnesses would testify during the jury trial that they saw Uno’s car traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph as it careened the wrong way down a one-way street.
Toyota stated in court that the 2006 Camry had a state-of-the-art braking system and had earned top safety honors. In addition, Toyota maintained that an override system would not have prevented the crash.
In an opening statement given by Toyota’s attorney, it was stated to the jurors that the accident was not caused by any problem with the vehicle and instead was the result of driver error.
The attorney for Toyota said that Uno had health problems. She had diabetes, which may have hampered her judgment. It was stated in opening that after Uno was hit by another vehicle at an intersection before the crash, she lost control of the Toyota, which was the underlying reason for her death.
Toyota’s lawyer said that Uno never hit the brakes. However, Toyota’s lawyer never said anything about whether Uno tried to use her hand brake.
In the family attorney’s opening statement, Mardirossian showed photographs of the hand brake in the “on” position.
The 2009 crash took place in Upland, Calif., east of Los Angeles, when another driver went through a stop sign and broadsided Uno’s car at a slow speed. The plaintiff’s theory is that the Camry, after the intersection crash, spun around and started accelerating on its own. Uno was in control of her vehicle and managed to avoid other drivers, including a woman driver with six children in her car. But she was unable to stop before her car hit a tree and a light pole, resulting in her death.
Trial may last as long as two months. The evidence in the case will include the use of the “black box” recording device that was found in the Camry, which clocked Uno’s car going 28-30 mph before she was hit. There will also be expert bio mechanics witnesses to testify who will analyze the details and reconstruct the crashes.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automotive product defect cases, car crashes and truck accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Norwood Park), Chicago (Jefferson Park), Chicago (Logan Square), Franklin Park, Schiller Park, Brookfield, Chicago (Woodlawn), Chicago Ridge, Calumet Park, Dolton, Arlington Heights and Berwyn, Ill.
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