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Toyota's confidential settlement in a fatal sudden acceleration case is confidential no more.
We now know the case settled for $10 million.
The settlement involved a Toyota sudden acceleration case filed by the relatives of California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and three other victims. Saylor was killed in a brutal crash that was captured on a 911 phone call. Legal experts had anticipated in the wake of Saylor's death and the subsequent recall that settlement figures would be far higher than $10 million.
Saylor was an off-duty California Highway patrolman. Investigators found that an improperly sized floor mat had stuck the accelerator pedal of the loaner Lexus he was driving with his family. The crash killed all four family members.
The world's largest auto maker was not pleased that the Toyota sudden acceleration settlement figure was released: "We are disappointed that the amount of this settlement has now been made public against the express wishes of these families and Toyota," the automaker said, The Los Angeles Times reports. Toyota had been shot down by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who said that the amount should be released. Toyota believed that the judge made a mistake in releasing the figure:
"As is common in these cases, these parties agreed to keep the amount confidential, in part to protect the families from unwanted solicitations and to allow them to move on from this difficult period," Toyota told the LA Times.
But, "At the end of the day, I think the motion to seal is not well taken," Judge Anthony J. Mohr said. "I think that in this case, the right to know overpowers the concerns raised by the plaintiffs and defendants."
"Ten million dollars is a strong indication of admission of liability by Toyota," said Edgar Heiskell, an attorney representing the family of a woman who allegedly died in a sudden acceleration crash. Toyota denies that the settlement is an admission of any kind.