February 28, 2011

Family to Proceed with Illinois Auto Products Liability Lawsuit Despite NASA & NHTSA Findings that Electronic Flaws Did Not Cause Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration

Even though a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study has found that electronic flaws are not to blame for the many sudden unintended acceleration crashes involving Toyota vehicles, the family of Leon Przybylowski say that they plan to proceed with their Illinois auto products liability lawsuit over his wrongful death.

Przybylowski, an 87-year-old Streamwood resident, died in May 2010 when his Toyota Corolla suddenly accelerated in a South Elgin strip mall, causing it to hit a parked auto and a wall. His family filed an Illinois wrongful death complaint in November—one of 400 auto products liability lawsuits against Toyota blaming defective electronics.

Now, however, the NHTSA’s study, which was put together with the help of NASA engineers, has found that instead of electronic flaws, mechanical and human errors may have been responsible. Przybylowski’s family they are not convinced. His Toyota Corolla was one of the vehicles that were recalled for faulty engine control modules. At the time, Toyota said the safety issue might cause engine failure or harsh shifting.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled another 2.17 million autos because of floor mat and accelerator pedal entrapment issues—two other causes of sudden unintended acceleration accidents that were previously cited. A Toyota or Lexus with this safety issue might accelerate out of control suddenly if the accelerator were to get stuck in the floor mat. Meantime, NHTSA says it is closing its probe into the matter of pedal entrapment and it is satisfied with how Toyota has handled this problem.

Family undeterred by report on Toyota issues, Chicago Tribune, February 23, 2011

Toyota Corolla Driver's Alleged Unintended Acceleration Accident Caught on Security Camera, MYFoxChicago, November 10, 2010

Related Web Resources:
NHTSA-NASA Study of Unintended Acceleration in Toyota Vehicles, NHTSA

Toyota recalls 2.1 million vehicles in U.S. over acceleration, Washington Post, February 24, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Following Toyota Recall of 2.3 Million Vehicles Over Gas Pedal Defect, Automaker Places Temporary Stop on Sale of Eight Car Models, Chicago Car Accident Attorneys Blog, January 26, 2010

Toyota Sudden Acceleration Blamed for Over 100 Traffic Deaths, Chicago Car Accident Attorneys Blog, March 26, 2010

Toyota Has Known About Deadly Floor Mats for Two Years, Reports New York Times, Chicago Car Accident Attorneys Blog, October 1, 2009

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October 21, 2010

Toyota Recalls 1.53 Million Autos Over Fuel Pump and Brake Fluid Problems

Toyota is issuing yet another recall. This one involves 1.53 million autos from around the world. The recall involves a problem with the brake master cylinder, which can cause a fluid leak and result in a decreased braking power. There also is an electric fault with the fuel pump, which can lead to engine problems. Approximately 740,000 of the recalled cars are in the US. The non-hybrid Highlander (2004 – 2006 models), Avalon (2005-2006 model), Lexus RX 330 (2004-2006 models), and the Lexus GS3 300, IS 350, and the IS 250 (2006 model) are the vehicles included in the recall.

In just over a year, Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles because of numerous safety issues and auto defects, including sudden unintended acceleration, sticky gas pedals, ill-fitting floor mats, engine problems, brake problems, and other issues. The automaker, once known for making some of the safest cares in the world, has definitely seen its reputation take a beating amidst allegations that it placed people’s safety in jeopardy.

It's sudden acceleration safety issue alone is being pointed to as the cause of over 100 motor vehicle deaths. Earlier this year the NHTSA fined $16.375 million—for waiting too long (almost four months) to notify the safety agency about a dangerous gas pedal defect. Toyota President Akio Toyoda has promised to improve customer service and quality, accelerate recall decisions, and pay greater attention to customer complaints.

Chicago Auto Products Liability
If you or someone you love was in a Chicago car accident involving a vehicle that you believe has a defective auto part, you may have grounds for filing an Illinois products liability case against the manufacturer. Remember that the vehicle doesn’t need to have been recalled for there to be a defect. In many cases, recalls aren’t issued until the problem has been brought to light as a result of a previous traffic crash.

Examples of Auto Defects and Safety Issues:
• Brake problems
• Sudden unintended acceleration
• Seat belt defects
• Seatback defects
• Sudden unintended acceleration
• Floor mat issues
• Tire failure
• Rollover issues
• Airbag problems
• Structural defects
• Window defects
• Design defects related to 15-passenger vans

1.5 Million Toyotas Recalled for Brake and Fuel Pump Problems, The New York Times, October 21, 2010

Statement from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Toyota's Agreement to Pay Maximum Civil Penalty, NHTSA, April 19, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Toyota Motor Corporation


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March 26, 2010

Toyota Sudden Acceleration Blamed for Over 100 Traffic Deaths

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 102 fatalities involving Toyota car crashes may have been caused by sudden acceleration. The Los Angeles Times reports that is almost double the number of Toyota acceleration-related deaths—56 fatalities—that were reported at the end of January.

The complaints started to flood in following the recalls of over 8.5 million Toyota vehicles over sudden acceleration concerns caused by sticking gas pedals and ill-fitting floor mats. Meantime, the automaker remains adamant that there are no electronic problems that have contributed to the unintended acceleration accidents.

According to the Times, Clarence Ditlow, from the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, says that he thinks that in the next several months hundreds more Toyota acceleration deaths will be reported. It may be that many people who thought driver negligence was the cause of a car crash are now discovering that the culprit was actually a vehicle defect. Among the recent Toyota products liability lawsuits that have been filed:

Nancy and Daniel Murtha are suing Toyota over the wrongful death of their 5-year-old son. Jacob Murtha died during a Lexus acceleration crash in July 2008. Nancy, who was driving the vehicle, sustained serous injuries when the car accelerated suddenly, forcing her to drive into a rock wall.

Barbrara Green filed a Toyota acceleration lawsuit accusing the automaker of causing the wrongful death of her son, Blazej Ignatowicz. He died in December 2006 when his Toyota Solara sped up to 100 mph, causing him to loose control of the vehicle and crash into a number of trees.

The parents of Mark Saylor and his wife are also suing Toyota. Saylor, his wife, their daughter, and his brother-in-law died last August when the Lexus they borrowed from the dealer accelerated out of control because the gas pedal got caught in the floor mat. It was after their deaths that Toyota began announcing a wave of massive vehicle recalls.

Toyotas' sudden acceleration blamed for more deaths, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2010

Westchester County, New York Parents File Suit Against Toyota for Death of Their Five-Year-Old Son in Lexus Sudden Acceleration Incident, Marketwatch, March 18, 2010

Saylor relatives suing Toyota, dealers, SignonSanDiego, March 2, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Toyota Motor Corp.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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March 17, 2010

Illinois Auto Products Liability: Woman Blames Ford for Husband’s Wrongful Death

A Clinton County, Illinois woman is suing Ford Motor Company and Wiegman Motor Company for over $800,000. Frances A. Therion claims that a 2004 Ford Freestar contributed to her husband's wrongful death. Joseph W. Therion was seriously injured during a Helvetia, Illinois car accident on December 24, 2008 when another car that failed to stop on Illinois Route 160 hit his vehicle. Even though Joseph was using a seat belt, he was seriously injured and had to have his spleen taken out. He fell into a coma and eventually died.

Now, Joseph’s widow, Frances Therion, is claiming that the Freestar’s defective design and improper manufacture, including the lack of side curtain, side head, and torso airbags, inadequate roof crush strength, and inadequate restraint, contributed to his Illinois wrongful death.

She is suing Wiegman because her husband bought the Freestar from the company. She says that the vehicle was defective when he purchased it.

Illinois Auto Products Liability
Not only must auto manufacturers must make sure that there are no defects in a vehicle that can cause the auto to malfunction, but they must also ensure that the proper protections are in place to protect vehicle occupants from injury in the event of a car crash. Failure to provide properly designed and functioning seat belts, airbags, and other safety devices can be grounds for a Chicago, Illinois auto products liability complaint if injuries or deaths occur as a result of the car manufacturer’s negligence.

Woman claims Ford responsible for husband's death in Freestar crash, The Record, March 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Safercar.gov, NHTSA

Ford Motor Company

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March 5, 2010

Cook County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Tire Defect for Fatal Van Rollover that Killed Father and Son

A Cook County woman who lost her husband and son when the 1984 Chevrolet Astro Van they were riding in rolled over on March 3, 2009 in Mexico is suing the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. Alicia Mendoza and Roberta Graff filed their Cook County wrongful death lawsuit over the deaths of Jose L. Mendoza Sr., Jose Mendoza Jr., and Leonardo Medina. Graff submitted the complaint on behalf of Medina.

According to their Illinois wrongful death complaint, the catastrophic van accident happened because of a tire defect that resulted in tire tread separation and failure.

Also named as defendants in the Illinois wrongful death complaint are Martha and Ruben Mendoza. They lent the van to the deceased. The lawsuit is seeking over $300,000 from the Mendozas and over $600,000 from the tire company.

Common Kinds of Tire Defects:

• Tire failure
• Tread separation
• Tire blowouts
• Rim blasts
• Tire explosions

Tire issues can occur because of design flaws, manufacturing defect, or due to negligence during installation/repair. In the event that a tire blowout happens or tread separation occurs, there is a good chance that a driver can lose control of the vehicle, causing the auto to crash into other cars or roll over. Spinal cord injuries, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, quadriplegia, paraplegia, and death can result.

Tire manufacturers, retailers, and tire repair and installation shops are supposed to make sure that tires are in proper working condition, no defects exist, and no maintenance errors are made that can cause a tire-relate crash to occur. Injured parties may have grounds for filing a Chicago, Illinois defective tire lawsuit or wrongful death complaint.

Suit: Defective tire led to triple-fatal crash, Chicago Sun-TImes, February 26, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Products Liability, Justia

Motor Vehicles, Recalls.gov

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February 10, 2010

St. Charles Resident Files Chicago, Illinois Auto Products Liability Lawsuit Against Toyota Motor Corp. Over Sticking Gas Pedal Defect

In Cook County Circuit Court, Ed Izenstark filed his Chicago, Illinois auto products liability complaint against Toyota Motor. Corp. over the sticking gas pedal defect that has led to the recall of over 2.3 million Toyota vehicles in the US. The 23-year-old St. driver is seeking over $50,000 in Cook County personal injury damages after he was involved in a St. Charles, Illinois car accident on December 26.

Izenstark filed had rented a 2010 Corolla from a Hertz located in the Chicago area. According to his Chicago car accident lawsuit, he crashed into another vehicle when his gas pedal got stuck. Izenstark and another passenger sustained injuries.

The sticking gas pedal defect is at the center of one of two major recalls by Toyota involving accelerator problems. To date, Toyota has recalled 5.3 million autos over concern that sudden acceleration might occur. Millions of other Toyotas have been recalled in Europe and China.

Last week, Toyota announced that it had figured out how to fix the sticking gas pedal defect. Repairs on the affected vehicles are being completed.

Over 60 Runaway Toyota car accidents have occurred in the US in the last few months. Last December, four people died in a single car crash involving a Toyota that investigators believe accelerated out of control. In August, another four people died when the other accelerator defect, this one involving the gas pedal getting entangled with the driver’s side floor mat, caused another deadly runaway Toyota car accident.

Meantime, Toyota’s troubles seem to be growing. Yesterday, the automaker announced two recalls. One global recall involved 437,000 Prius and Lexus hybrids over an ABS software defect. The car manufacturer issued a separate recall involving 7,300 Camrys (2010 model) because of a brake defect that make it difficult for a driver to stop his/her car.

Toyota sued in car crash, Chicago Tribune, February 5, 2010

Toyota Begins Fix for Sticky Gas Pedal Problem, KHON2.com, February 6, 2010

Related Web Resource:
Toyota Motor Corp.

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January 26, 2010

Following Toyota Recall of 2.3 Million Vehicles Over Gas Pedal Defect, Automaker Places Temporary Stop on Sale of Eight Car Models

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is asking car dealers to temporarily stop selling eight of its vehicle models. The suspension is part of the steps the automaker is taking to deal with a problem that can cause the gas pedal to stick.

Last week, Toyota recalled about 2.3 million autos over the accelerator defect, which it says is a separate issue from the one that prompted its recall of 4.2 million Lexus and Toyota vehicles last November. That recall was issued because of concern that a loose floor mat on the driver’s side could cause the gas pedal to jam and the vehicle to accelerate to extremely high speeds. Our Chicago auto products liability lawyers have been following that auto defect story in our Chicago, Illinois car accident blog site.

Since last year’s massive Toyota recall, ABC News reports that there have been over 60 new incidents involving runaway Toyotas, including one fatal car crash that killed four people on December 26. The floor mats were not a factor in that collision.

Vehicles that are part of this latest recall in include Toyota’s:

• Sequoia: ’08 – ’10 models
• RAV4: ’09 – ’10 models
• Matrix: ’09– ’10 models
• Tundra: ’07 – ’10 models
• Corolla: ’09 – ‘10 models
• Avalon: ’05 –’10 models
• Pontiac Vibe: ‘09 model
• Highlander: ’10 model
• Camry: ’07 – ’10 models

Gas pedal defects, poorly fitting floor mats, faulty seat belts, defective air bags, weak roofs, seatback malfunctions, defective tires, engine malfunctions, and faulty breaks are auto defects that can cause serious injuries and deaths.

Toyota Recall Prompts Automaker to Suspend Sales, CNN, January 26, 2010

TOYOTA RECALL: Reports of Runaway Cars, ABC News, January 21, 2010

Toyota Recalls Millions of Motor Vehicles, MyFoxLA.com, January 21, 2010

Related Web Resource:
Toyota Motor Corp.

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