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Jury rules against Toyota in 'unintended-acceleration' fatal crash

Oct. 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A jury in Oklahoma City said Toyota Motor Corp. was at fault in a 2007 crash that killed a woman and was blamed on a Camry accelerating on its own.

The decision came in one of hundreds of lawsuits against Toyota that blame unintended acceleration as the cause of accidents, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The jury awarded $3 million in compensatory damages be paid to Jean Bookout, the driver of the 2005 Camry, and to the family of passenger, Barbara Schwarz, who died in the crash in Eufaula, Okla., the Times said.

The jury found Toyota guilty of "reckless disregard" in the case by failing to take action to correct a dangerous situation. As such, the jury will also set an amount for punitive damages, the Times said.

Toyota has won three similar cases but could be put into a corner if it begins to lose more unintended-acceleration cases, and if it does it may be forced to reverse its strategy, which relies on denial that the company is at fault, the report said.

"This certainly changes the momentum ... they have maintained all along that there wasn't a problem," said Carl Tobias, product  liability expert and law professor at the University of Richmond.

The case in Oklahoma, "has to be a real concern for Toyota," Tobias said.

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