by LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A lawyer for plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. told a jury on Thursday he will ask for $20 million in damages for the family of a woman who died when her Camry suddenly accelerated and crashed despite her efforts to stop.
The case involving the 2009 death of Noriko Uno is the first involving the issue to go to trial in state court.
Toyota recalled millions of vehicles worldwide after drivers reported that some of its vehicles were surging unexpectedly. The company agreed to pay $1 billion in other suits.
In his opening statement Thursday, attorney Garo Mardirossian said Toyota was at fault for the death of Uno because it failed to install an override safety system in the 2006 model she was driving.
“Toyota made a decision to leave out the brake override system in the 2006 Camry,” he said.
Witnesses will testify that they saw Uno’s car traveling at speeds up to 100 mph as it careened the wrong way down a one-way street, he said.
Toyota was expected to present its opening statement later in the day.
The company issued a statement at the courtroom saying the 2006 Camry had a state of the art braking system and had earned top safety and quality honors. It said an override system would not have prevented the crash.
The 2009 accident involving Uno occurred when another driver went through a stop sign and broadsided her car at slow speed. Mardirossian said the Camry spun around and started accelerating.
Uno was in control of the car and managed to avoid other drivers, including a woman with six children in her vehicle, the lawyer said, but she was unable to stop before the car hit a tree and light pole, killing her.
The trial is expected to last two months.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.