Patrick Rall's picture

Toyota’s first unintended acceleration settlement approved

Toyota’s first settlement stemming from the unintended acceleration that has spurred a recall of over 14 million vehicles has been approved by the California Superior Court, with $10 million being paid to the family who lost four members when the Lexus ES350 in which they were riding accelerated out of control.

California Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr announced today at a hearing in Los Angeles that he would allow the $10 million dollar product liability settlement paid to the family of Officer Mark Saylor. Saylor, his wife, their 13 year old daughter and Saylor’s brother in law were all killed on August 28, 2009 when the loaner Lexus ES350 that Saylor was driving went out of control – accelerating on its own to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour before slamming through a guardrail and crashing along the side of the highway.

During the horrifying ride that ended with the death of the four occupants of the Lexus ES350, Saylor’s brother in law called 911, explaining that their vehicle’s accelerator was stuck. During the post-crash investigation, San Diego County Sheriff's Department ruled that the problem had been caused by an incompatible all-weather floor mat that was intended for a Lexus SUV but instead, it was incorrectly installed in the luxury sedan. Saylor received the temporary loaner from Bob Baker Lexus of San Diego – the dealership responsible for installing those SUV floor mats in a sedan – essentially causing the death of three adults and one child.

Toyota reportedly came to terms with the family of the deceased and although the family, Toyota and the dealership involved all requested that the dollar value be kept private, the courts opted against that. Also, once the settlement was announced (pending the court’s approval), Baker Lexus objected to the terms, citing that their dealership would be left open to claims of negligence against the business. Toyota’s grounds for requesting privacy with respect to the settlement amount were the fact that there were so many lawsuits for similar deaths that it would unleash a storm of similar lawsuits seeking similar settlements but not surprisingly, Toyota’s movement was dismissed.

Now that the California Superior Court has approved the $10 million dollar settlement, Saylor’s family will receive a major payday and with Baker Lexus allegedly being left exposed to a suit against them for their careless use of floor mats, this may not be the last we hear of this tragic case.

Other Toyota News:
Toyota recalls 2.17 million more for floormats causing unintended acceleration
Toyota Highlander under government investigation over stalling risks
Toyota seeks dismissal of unintended acceleration suits
The US Gov't finds no electronic problems in Toyota's acceleration recalls
Toyota offering buyout options for US employees

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