Toyota to pay 10 million dollars to settle lawsuit over San Diego crash

11:08, December 24, 2010      

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Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay 10 million dollars to settle a lawsuit over a fiery crash last year in San Diego, Southern California, it was reported on Thursday.

The crash claimed four lives and drew national attention to the issue of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

The automaker's settlement with relatives of California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three of his family members was disclosed in September, but the amount it paid was not released then, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Toyota and the families had moved to keep the amount secret, but that request was denied by a Superior Court judge on Monday, the report said.

The amount was confirmed on Thursday by Larry Willis, an attorney for a Lexus dealership that also is a defendant in the case, according to the report.

"Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached a private, amicable settlement through mutual respect and cooperation without the involvement of the courts," the automaker was quoted as saying. "So we are disappointed that the amount of this settlement has now been made public against the express wishes of these families and Toyota."

Attorneys for the families could not be reached immediately for comment.

In exchange for the payment, the families -- Saylor's parents and those of his wife, Cleofe Lastrella, and his brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella -- agreed to drop their lawsuit against the automaker. They had alleged that defects in the 2009 Lexus ES caused it to accelerate out of control before crashing in August 2009, killing all four occupants, including Saylor's 13-year-old daughter Mahala, the report said.

The moments leading up to the crash were captured in a chilling 911 recording that led to the first of a series of safety and quality recalls by Toyota in the past 14 months.

Since then, the automaker has faced a series of federal investigations, recalled millions of vehicles worldwide and been hit with scores of lawsuits in state and federal courts.

The Saylor-Lastrella suit was widely considered the strongest against Toyota, so settling it eliminates the risk of a huge jury verdict, the report said.

Source: Xinhua
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