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Toyota’s Highest Ranking U.S. Executive Testifies in Acceleration Defect Case
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Toyota’s highest ranking U.S. executive has testified in the first bellweather to go to trial. This case that will set a precedent moving forward for all other sudden acceleration defect cases brought to Toyota. The family of Noriko Uno, who died in a 2009 crash in Upland California in 2009, is asking for millions from the automaker. Attorneys representing the family say that the giant carmaker could have put a safety feature on the American vehicle, putting it on par in terms of safety with its Asian counterparts, but the automaker decided not to, and saved the extra cost of adding the safety feature. Lawyers representing the Uno family allege that Toyota decided to forgo adding the safety feature even though they knew about the potential risks.

  
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At this time James Lentz, CEO of Toyota of North America Inc. has been probed on whether “installing a brake override system in [the] 2006 Camry would have prevented [Noriko Uno’s] death. Such systems are designed to stop a car when the brake and accelerator pedals are pressed at the same time, according to law.com.” CEO Lentz admitted that the company had considered the brake override feature, but had “decided against it.” He said that he felt that the name of the feature, ‘Safe Stop’ was “overpromise” as it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the accelerator in all cases.”

In the courtroom Lentz admitted that he wasn’t familiar with how the technology worked or what it would even cost to install it. Toyota fought to keep the CEO out of the court.  The leading plaintiff’s lawyer in the federal multidistrict litigation against Toyota, Todd Walburg commented, “we intend to have [CEO of Toyota Inc. of America James Lentz] testify in all of the upcoming trials.” It seems that Toyota may have an uphill battle defending themselves in why they didn’t add the safety feature to their Camry model.

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