Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit that involved the death of a California state trooper and members of his family. The state trooper and three members of his family died in a car crash that involved a Toyota vehicle that had a sticky accelerator. The lawsuit was a part of a multitude of legal actions brought against the company for vehicles that accelerated unintentionally. The lawsuit was brought by the state trooper’s family.
The car crash occurred on August 28, 2009, as the trooper, his wife, his 13-year-old daughter and his brother-in-law were traveling to a family event near San Diego. The trooper and his family were driving a Lexus ES 350 and the car began to speed out of control when the car started to “accelerate on its own.” The California state trooper tried to stop the vehicle by applying the brakes but his attempts to stop the car proved unsuccessful. The state trooper’s brother-in-law tried to get help from 911 emergency services, but the call ended as the car reached 120 miles per hour and struck another vehicle.
The family’s car then ran through a fence and hit a road berm which sent the car through the air. The vehicle then flipped multiple times as it landed in a field and then burst into flames. According to investigators with the San Diego County Sheriff’s office the vehicle’s accelerator probably became stuck in an ill-fitting rubber floor mat that was intended to be used for a larger vehicle.
The trooper’s tragic car accident shed national news attention on the problem with acceleration in Toyotas. Since 2000, up to 89 traffic deaths may have been caused by unintended acceleration in Toyotas.