Toyota-Sudden Unintended Acceleration

The Federal Courts Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has decided that because of the number of Toyota unintended acceleration lawsuits before the court, they will be combined at the California Federal Court in Santa Ana. The Toyota recalls were begun after the highly publicized fiery crash on state Route 125 in Santee that lead to the tragic death of an off duty CHP officer and his family.

Toyota has recalled over 8.5 million vehicles since November, 2009, for problems that include floor mats getting entangled with the gas pedal and electronically actuated gas pedals that stick. These defects are believed to be causing the unintended acceleration and sudden acceleration of several Toyota models.

The sudden acceleration of a Lexus (built by Toyota), that killed an off-duty CHP officer Mark Saylor, his wife Cleofe, their daughter Mahala and Cleofe’s brother Chris Lastrella was recorded by a California Highway Patrol 911 emergency dispatcher and helped lead to the recalls.

Unintended Acceleration Causes Tragic Crash

The following is an excerpt from the CHP released tape of the frantic 911 emergency call.  Officer Saylor was driving a loaner vehicle after leaving his own vehicle at Bob Baker Lexus in El Cajon, for service. On the CHP tape, the passenger, Lastrella tells the dispatcher, “We’re in a Lexus. We’re going north 125 and our accelerator is stuck.”

When the dispatcher asks, where are you passing, Lastrella replies, “We’re going 120 (mph)! Mission Gorge! We’re in trouble – we can’t – there’s no brakes, Mission Gorge — end freeway half mile.” The dispatcher then asks Lastrella if he has the ability to turn the car off. Lastrella didn’t answer but continued to frantically repeat, “We are now approaching the intersection, we’re approaching the intersection, we’re approaching the intersection.”

The disturbing 50 second tape ends with the sounds of the car crashing and family members screaming and yelling “pray.” While the incident was taking place, several motorists called 911 to report a car, with fire coming from its wheels, weaving through traffic with emergency flashers on.

Officer Scott Hill, lead investigator for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, credits 19-year CHP veteran, Saylor, with saving lives as he steered the out of control Toyota made Lexus through traffic. “We were very lucky that there were not more deaths,” Hill said. “He did everything he could to stop that car.”  In an interview with the Union-Tribune, Hill said there was prolonged “heavy, heavy, hard braking.”

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After the broadcasting of this accident, the government agencies and Toyota started receiving many more complaints and lawsuits filed concerning the Toyota sudden acceleration problem. There have been so many class action lawsuits filed against Toyota, The Federal Courts’ Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation was compelled to combine the cases, click here, unintended acceleration, for transfer order in pdf format. The panel concluded that because of the number of lawsuits in the Central California District and the U.S. headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp being located in the same district that it would combine the actions, and they have selected U.S. District Judge James V. Selna to preside over the cases.

If you have been involved in an accident that you feel was caused by the sudden acceleration or the unintended acceleration of your Toyota or Lexus, contact us at The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen, we can help you.

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