Toyota Settles With CHP Officer's Family Over 'Sudden Acceleration' deaths

Toyota - sudden accelerationAutomaker Toyota agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit tied to a fatal August 2009 accident near San Diego that killed four members of the same family, raised concerns about possible unintended sudden acceleration and triggered recalls of more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S.

Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer, his wife Cleofe Lastrella, a brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala, were traveling in a 2009 Lexus ES, which the dealership loaned them while their vehicle underwent repairs.Toyota's market share has fallen to 15.2% through the first 11 months of 2010 from 16.9% a year earlier, and J.D. Power and Associates in a recent report said that fewer people are shopping Toyota than was the case a year ago. The company has repeatedly said that it has found no evidence that electronic malfunctions led to any cases of unintended acceleration.

Toyota dealers have been reconfiguring or replacing gas pedals, or replacing floor mats. The company has said those are adequate to prevent unintended acceleration.

A variety of other safety issues, ranging from stability-control systems to steering parts to leaky brake fluid, have been at the center of Toyota recalls covering several million additional vehicles.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District judge in Santa Ana, Calif. declined Toyota's request to dismiss 40 personal-injury and wrongful-death cases, not including the Saylor family settlement. In October, Allstate Insurance sued Toyota for $3 million to cover 270 insurance claims that Selna has decided could be caused by defective Toyotas.

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