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Toyota Not Likely To Settle As Other Suits Ready For Trial.

Publication Date: 
September 26, 2013
Source: 
Daily Journal
Author: 
Omar Shamout

Stanford Law Professor Robert L. Rabin is quoted in The Daily Journal discussing lawsuits against Toyota regarding malfunctioning breaks.

Three years ago, Janice Dushane's 2005 Toyota Prius sped out of control down the Vineyard Avenue exit of the 101 Freeway in Oxnard before launching through the air and crashing into the side of the Rio School District building. A jury of her peers will likely decide early next year whether Toyota Motor Corp.'s alleged problems with unexpected acceleration are to blame for the life-altering injuries Dushane suffered. The case is set to be the second of some 80 personal injury cases against the automaker to go to trial in the California state courts.

The first, Uno v. Toyota, should see a result by early October. At issue is whether an inexpensive brake override system would have saved 66-year-old Noriko Uno's life by preventing her 2006 Camry from smashing into a large pepper tree along Euclid Avenue in Upland four years ago. The fail-safe technology, which powers down a vehicle's engine when the brake and accelerator pedals are depressed simultaneously, became standard on all new Toyota models by the end of 2010, though it was available on an overseas Yaris model as early as 2001.

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Torts expert Robert L. Rabin said Toyota would likely want to wait a little longer to see if a trend takes shape.

"The tendency has been to play out a few of the cases and see how they go instead of settling the case," said the Stanford Law School professor, "especially when the fact patterns vary."

Rabin pointed to product liability litigation against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. over its controversial drug Vioxx as an example. Plaintiffs won a $253 million verdict against the drugmaker in the first case, but Merck won the majority of the other jury verdicts before the parties reached a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007, according to published reports.