Toyota: It Wasn’t the Mat

As Aristotle once put it, “One swallow does not a summer made.” But in the midst of all of the problems that Toyota is facing—both earthquake/tsunami-related and those legal issues that are still out there from all of those “unintended acceleration” claims—they must have felt pretty good yesterday when, after 45 minutes of deliberation and a week-long trial, jurors in a trial held in U.S.

As Aristotle once put it, “One swallow does not a summer make.”

But in the midst of all of the problems that Toyota is facing—both earthquake/tsunami-related and those legal issues that are still out there from all of those “unintended acceleration” claims—they must have felt pretty good yesterday when, after 45 minutes of deliberation and a week-long trial, jurors in a trial held in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York found for the company in an unintended acceleration case brought by a plaintiff who claimed an accident was caused in his Scion by an unsecured driver’s side floor mat.

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Toyota’s official statement following the decision:

“Toyota is pleased that the jury found no merit to this unintended acceleration claim, refused to accept testimony about possible pedal entrapment by the Scion’s floor mat, and rejected arguments that Toyota was liable for the absence of a brake override system in the vehicle. Importantly, plaintiff’s expert could identify no electronic defect in the vehicle’s Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS) and offered no scientific proof of any electrical or mechanical malfunction in the throttle control or braking systems of Dr. Sitafalwalla's vehicle [the plaintiff].

“Toyota's ETCS has been extensively tested, most recently in an exhaustive 10-month study by NHTSA and NASA, and has multiple fail-safe systems to shut off or reduce engine power in the unlikely event of system failure.  We believe that this case sets an important benchmark for unintended acceleration litigation against Toyota across this country, as it clearly demonstrates a plaintiff’s inability to identify, let alone prove the existence of, an alleged electronic defect in Toyota vehicles that could cause unintended acceleration.”

While Toyota has a long legal row to hoe, it must at least seem like Spring so far as litigation issues are concerned.