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Toyota Pays $10M in Sudden Acceleration Case

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By Jason Beahm on January 04, 2011 6:04 AM

A judge decided that the recent Toyota Motor Corp. confidential settlement should not be confidential. The settlement was for $10 million, without an admission of liability on behalf of Toyota. Could this figure be the bar for future sudden acceleration cases?

The automaker thought that the Toyota sudden acceleration settlement was going to remain confidential. The presiding judge thought differently.

The settlement came in a sudden acceleration case brought by survivors of four people, including deceased California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor. The crash was recorded on a 911 phone call, in which Saylor and three family members were killed while on a phone call to 911 dispatchers, as the car accelerated out of control.

Legal experts believed that the Toyota sudden acceleration settlement figures would be substantially higher than $10 million. Some estimated into nine figures. Researchers found that the wrong size floor mats caused a stuck accelerator in the Lexus that Saylor was driving with his family.

Most settlements are kept sealed under the request of both parties. However, the judge in this case found that the public had too great of a right to be aware of the settlement and reversed the seal.

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."

While the figure isn't as high as some speculated it might be, Toyota definitely did not want it released. That's because the automaker is concerned that the number could set a bar for other pending sudden acceleration suits, The Los Angeles Times reports.

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