A Los Angeles jury has acquitted Toyota Motor Corp. of all liability in the 2009 death of 66-year old Noriko Ono, who was killed when another driver struck by 2006 Camry and she was sent careening on a harrowing ride before crashing into a telephone pole and tree. Although her husband Peter and son Jeffrey claimed that the crash could have been avoided if Toyota had installed a brake override system, which deadens the accelerator if the driver hits the brakes, the jurors concluded that the sedan's design was not to blame and that she (likely) mistook the gas pedal for the brake during the confusion of the accident. However, they did state that the driver who ran a stop sign before hitting her should pay $10 million to her family.
Additional cases nationwide have sought to blame defective electronics in the car for sudden, unintended acceleration that preceded other crashes. In fact, a similar case is currently underway in Oklahoma, while hundreds more "unintended acceleration" lawsuits are still pending in federal and state courts throughout the US against the automaker.
Toyota has already been ordered to $29 million in settlements, including $5 million or more to reimburse owners in 29 states for towing, taxi and rental-car costs this year. This was on top of the more than $17 million fined by federal regulators in 2012 after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the company guilty of failing to issue a recall within five days of being aware that floor mats in their 2010 Lexus RX could lead to unintended acceleration.