The families of two people who killed in a Utah crash in 2010, will have their case proceed to trial against Toyota in Federal Court in Santa Ana, California. The trial is set for February, 2013, before the Honorable Judge James V. Selna. A second trial involving a claim of economic loss related to an unintended acceleration has been set in the same court for July, 2013. Additionally, a second wrongful death case has been set for trial for November, 2013, before Judge Selna. It appears that Judge Selna will limit the economic loss trial to claims arising out of three states, California, New York and Florida. However, Toyota lawyers are attempting to include cases from states with less consumer friendly laws such as Georgia, Ohio and Illinois.
These three cases prove to be the seminal cases for the court and lawyers to test the evidence, liability issues and further setting bar for future cases in other states. Throughout this pretrial process Toyota has vehemently opposed class-action treatment of the economic loss lawsuits. Toyota is claiming that there is no common class of litigants and that the plaintiffs are not entitled to individual or class wide relief. Toyota further claims that the plaintiffs have failed to establish any alleged defect in Toyota’s electronic throttle control system and have produced no reliable scientific theory approved to support a defective claim in a Toyota vehicle according to Toyota’s spoke person.
The first trial involves the deaths of Paul Van Alfen and passenger Charlene Lloyd who were killed when Van Alfen’s 2008 Toyota Camry smashed into a wall. His wife and son were injured in the 2010 crash and are plaintiffs as well. The underlying claim set forth by the families is an unintended acceleration as Van Alfen was exiting the Interstate 80 in Utah and the Camry failed to stop despite Van Alfen slamming on the breaks.