Week Adjourned: 11.13.09

Zero to 100 with zero intention? Not what Toyota intended...Top Class Actions

Sued for SUA? Toyota…Unintended Acceleration Fast-Tracked to Class Action. A national class action was filed this week against Toyota Motor Corporation on behalf of Toyota and Lexus owners, alleging that the cars are prone to ‘sudden unintended acceleration’ (SUA).

So what the heck is SUA? Well, in short, a situation where your car takes off or accelerates or gets stuck in ‘go’ mode—without intention—your intention.

As yet there’s no definitive explanation for SUA. Toyota has reportedly cited that it could be due to ill fitting floor mats getting stuck around the gas pedal…but the lawyers aren’t buying. Legal counsel for the class action believe that there is evidence to suggest that SUA is more complex than just a case of fat mats.

According to an article in JustAuto, (Nov 9, 2009), more than 1,000 Toyota owners have reported incidents of SUA since 2001. And, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 15 people have died in crashes possibly related to SUA from 2002, which presumably includes the California highway patrol officer, Mark Saylor, and three of his family members who were killed when his car sped off at more than 100 miles per hour, crashed and burned. 

Top Settlements     

We’re big, we’re bad, but we’re not wrong? One of the world’s largest insurance brokerages, Marsh & McLennan, that was accused of bid rigging and price fixing its insurance contracts based on incidents going back to 2004, has decided to cough up $435 million to settle the resulting securities class action—admitting no wrong doing, of course.

How does that work? You offer to pay loads of money to settle something you won’t admit responsibility for or being a party to? This begs the question, what would be an appropriate sum if you are willing to admit guilt?

$600k Found Curbside? I was inspired by this, having falling badly on poorly maintained public streets several times in the past: A 60 year old man who was  helping his son move into new digs, got his foot stuck in a curb in a reportedly dimly lit parking lot, and ended up fracturing his hip. This in turn, put him off work for four months. So, he sued.  

The jury found in his favor and awarded him a $600,000 settlement. Expert witnesses called to testify at the trial said that the parking lot where this happened only had about 0.10 foot candles of illumination, whereas parking lots typically have 0.60 foot candles of illumination. The lack of illumination would have contributed to the likelihood of an accident occurring.

That’s it for this week! See you at the Bar…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *