Litigation

Maryland Couple Sues Toyota For Injuries Suffered In Accident

LOS ANGELES — Robert J. Nelson of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP has announced that Andrew and Tetyana Flury of Pasadena, Md., on May 3 filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking general and punitive damages against Toyota Motor Corp. for allegedly causing them severe injuries.

On April 29, 2008, in Baltimore, the couple’s 2005 Toyota Echo allegedly suddenly accelerated and collided with an SUV.

The life-threatening collision knocked both unconscious. Mr. Flury went into an immediate coma for over a month and suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to Nelson.

"The complaint charges that Toyota for years was aware that its vehicles were susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration, leading to fatal accidents," Nelson said. "Yet, Toyota never made any significant changes to improve the acceleration and electrical systems of its vehicles, in spite of the availability of several safe and inexpensive modifications."

The complaint charges that beginning in the late 1990s, Toyota manufactured, distributed and sold vehicles with an electronic throttle control system (ETC).

Unlike that of traditional throttle control systems, where a physical linkage connects the accelerator pedal to the engine throttle, in the ETC system, the engine throttle is controlled by electronic signals sent from the gas pedal to the engine throttle. A sensor at the accelerator detects how far the gas pedal is depressed and transmits that information to a computer module that controls the engine throttle.

When Toyota first introduced the ETC, it continued to include a mechanical linkage between the accelerator and the engine throttle control.

Beginning with the 2002 model year, Toyota began manufacturing and selling vehicles without such a mechanical linkage. Further, Toyota’s ETC system fails to include a failsafe measure, known as brake-to-idle override, that is in use by other vehicle manufacturers. The brake-to-idle override instructs the ETC system to automatically reduce the engine to idle whenever the brakes are applied without success.

The complaint was filed in federal court in Los Angeles as two of the primary defendants, Toyota Motor North America Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales Inc., are both California corporations with their headquarters located in Los Angeles. The complaint seeks general damages as well as punitive damages.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP is a 60-plus attorney law firm that has represented plaintiffs nationwide since 1972. For more information, visit http://www.lieffcabraser.com/.