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LOS ANGELES — Robert
J. Nelson of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
LLP has announced that Sandra Livingston of Roosevelt, N.Y., on Feb. 22
filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking general and punitive damages against
Toyota Motor Corp. for the death of her daughter, Tyrene Livingston. On Oct. 26,
2007, Tyrene’s 2007 Toyota Yaris suddenly accelerated and crashed while she was
driving on U.S. Route 30 in East Pittsburgh, Pa., according to the lawsuit.
Before the fatal accident, Tyrene Livingston was a 21-year-old-graduate
student who was pursuing her Master’s degree in Education at the University of
The complaint charges that Toyota for years was aware that its vehicles were
susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration, leading to fatal accidents,”
stated plaintiffs’ counsel Robert J. Nelson. “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
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 which 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
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 against Toyota for
its failure to recall its vehicles because of a known, significant safety defect
and refusal to take any steps to prevent sudden unintended acceleration
accidents in order to increase its profits.
According to the lawsuit:
Four days before the fatal accident, Tyrene Livingston brought her Yaris to a
Toyota dealership and complained of problems with the vehicle, including what
she perceived to be issues with braking. The vehicle was inspected and tested,
and she was ensured that nothing was wrong.
On Oct. 26, 2007, at approximately 8:45 a.m., Livingston, wearing her seat
belt, was driving to her teaching internship at a local high school. She was
driving eastbound on U.S. Route 30 in East Pittsburgh, Pa., at a safe rate of
speed. As she traveled down the highway, the Yaris suddenly accelerated out of
control and Livingston was unable to stop the vehicle by braking. The Yaris
crossed four lanes of the highway at a high rate of speed, went over a curb,
crashed through a guardrail, went down an embankment, and landed into trees,
resulting in Livingston’s death.
Lieff Cabraser represents persons across America injured in accidents
involving Toyota and Lexus vehicles that allegedly suddenly accelerated. For
more information, visit http://www.usautoinjurylaw.com/cases/defects/acceleration/toyota-lexus.htm
or call 1-800-541-7358 and ask to speak to attorney Todd Walburg.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is a 60-plus attorney law with
offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville, Tenn. Learn more at www.lieffcabraser.com.