INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

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Jury Finds for Toyota in Unintended Acceleration Trial

After a nine week trial and six days of deliberations, a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court entered a verdict in favor of the defendant Toyota in the nation’s second unintended acceleration case to go to trial. The product liability case resulted from a 2009 car accident in which a 66-year-old woman was killed while driving a Toyota Camry. The plaintiffs claimed at trial that the woman’s vehicle suddenly accelerated after it was struck by another car and that the vehicle’s failure to have a brake override system caused the woman to not be able to stop her vehicle, resulting in a second crash with a telephone pole and tree that killed her. Although the jury found for Toyota regarding the product liability claim, it did enter a $10 million verdict against the co-defendant driver who caused the initial collision.

There remain hundreds of lawsuits across the country alleging that plaintiffs suffered personal injuries, some catastrophic, when their Toyota vehicles suddenly accelerated and crashed. Although this case could be seen as an important victory for Toyota, the facts and legal theories of the case were quite different than the majority of the other unintended acceleration lawsuits against Toyota, so it is not clear whether the result is simply an anomaly. For example, the vehicle involved in this case was not subject to the recalls that Toyota issued once the unintended acceleration defects came to light. After issuing a number of vehicle recalls relating to unintended acceleration and being fined by the federal government, Toyota has already settled several highly-publicized cases, including a $10 million settlement with the family of a California state trooper who was killed in 2009 when the Lexus he was driving suddenly accelerated and crashed. In addition, Toyota paid $1.6 billion to settle a class action suit brought by Toyota owners who claimed that unintended acceleration defects had significantly reduced the value of their cars.

SUGARMAN has a long history of pursuing and litigating crashworthiness and motor vehicle defective product claims on behalf of people who have been catastrophically injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents. People who have sustained severe injuries in a car accident or have family members who have sustained such injuries would be well advised to consult with an experienced product liability attorney to determine whether a crashworthiness case is a viable avenue to recover for the injuries sustained. If you or a family member have any questions regarding a defective product, our partners are happy to consult with you. Please call us at 617-542-1000 or email info@sugarman.com.