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Toyota Lawsuit Over Sudden Acceleration Picks Up Speed

A class action lawsuit was filed by CA residents Seong Bae Choi and Chris Chan Park on Nov. 5, 2009 against the popular car maker Toyota.

The plaintiffs claim that sudden acceleration is a problem that is present in many makes and models. This particular problem has caused countless unintended accidents and crashes. They also contend that in spite of Toyota's knowledge of the problem, that Toyota has failed to address the safety issue.

According to Bloomberg, there have been over 2,000 complaints about sudden acceleration. The lawsuit also contends that the sudden acceleration has been the cause of 16 deaths and over 200 injuries.

The LA Times reports that federal regulators say that the crashes are far more than any other automakers have experienced.

The lawsuit also says that Toyota has failed to "incorporate important failsafe measures." However, according to the automaker, the planned Toyota recall of as many as 3.8 million vehicles including Lexus ES luxury cars, Camry sedans and Prius hybrids over a potential flaw in which floor mats shifting out of position could jam the accelerator pedal.

However, the plaintiffs say that this is not the actual cause of the problem.

The plaintiff's attorney said in a written statement: "Neither driver error nor floor mats can explain away many other frightening instances of runaway Toyotas. Until the company acknowledges the real problem and fixes it, we worry that other preventable injuries and deaths will occur."

The complaint set forth by the plaintiffs state that the problem is actually caused by a faulty electronic throttle system called ETCS-i. There was a fail safe mechanism in place in cars older than 2001 but that mechanism is not present in newer vehicles.

The plaintiffs allege that this non-inclusion of a fail safe mechanism is the cause of these accidents. This implies that the planned Toyota recall, if limited to dealing with floor mats, would not address the crux of the problem. 

Even scarier news has been the reluctance on the part of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In spite of these complaints, the administration has failed to address the issue. They have dismissed a majority of the complaints by narrowing down the focus of their own investigations.

The LA Times also reported that the agency got rid of broad cetegories of sudden acceleration complaints.  This means that all of the instances where drivers have complained of sudden acceleration have not necessarily been addressed or even documented.

What is Toyota's response to the lawsuit? Toyota has not responded to the press about the current lawsuit yet.

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