Taking On Toyota


Toyota’s troubles with sudden acceleration have given rise to litigation seeking to hold the carmaker accountable. Pursuing these cases in the courtroom will require a smart strategy and the willingness to face a tough, well-financed defendant.

In August 2009, 911 operators in San Diego received a panicked call: “We’re in trouble . . . There’s no brakes—end freeway half mile!” The call came from Chris LaStrella, a passenger in a Lexus that was being driven by his brother in law, Mark Saylor, a California highway patrolman.

The car had suddenly accelerated to 120 mph, and Saylor couldn’t stop it. Moments later, it struck another car, careened into an embankment, plummeted into a dry riverbed, and erupted in flames, killing LaStrella, Saylor, Saylor’s wife, and the Saylors’ 13 year old daughter. Investigators found floor mats intended for a different model in the car and learned that its previous owner had reported that the accelerator became stuck.1

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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