Damages settlement in Toyota case
on 25/10/2013 15:33:02
The jury found Toyota liable for a fatal crash and awarded US $1.5m compensation to Jean Bookout, the driver injured in the crash, and the same to the family of Barbara Schwarz, who died.
The jury also decided that Toyota acted with "reckless disregard" for the rights of others.
Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said jurors will not be deliberating additional punitive damages.
The judge did not disclose the amount of punitive damages, which is still being discussed in the courtroom. The judge has barred the parties from discussing the case publicly until the trial concludes.
Ms Bookout, 82, was driving a 2005 Camry six years ago when it went through a junction near Eufaula and slammed into an embankment.
The lawyers for Ms Bookout and Ms Schwarz's family said the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly because of a defect in the car's electronic throttle-control system. Ms Bookout's lawyer Cole Portis said Toyota knew about the problems but concealed the information from the public.
"We believe Toyota's conduct from the time the electronic throttle-control system was developed has been shameful," he told jurors. "It's a big deal because if it doesn't work right, people get killed."
Toyota lawyers disputed those claims and blamed the crash on driver error. "Sometimes people make mistakes while driving their cars," lawyer Randolph Bibb said.
Mr Bibb theorised that Ms Bookout mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.
Toyota already agreed to a billion dollar-plus settlement in 2012 to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses Toyota owners suffered when the Japanese manufacturer recalled millions of vehicles because of sudden acceleration problems.
But that settlement did not include those suing over wrongful death and injury, and hundreds more of those lawsuits remain.