— A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Toyota and other companies after a deadly crash in California of a Toyota Yaris.
A 51-year-old female was driving a 2015 Toyota Yaris that was traveling east on I-10 in San Bernardino County when the vehicle exited the highway onto the Vineyard Avenue off-ramp.
The Yaris driver said she couldn't get the vehicle to slow down before it crashed into a Toyota Solara, killing four people in the Solara. Killed were Monica Flores, 37, of Arcadia, Anthony Flores, 30, of Hemet, Jeffrey Willey, 29, of Huntington Beach and Matthew Pusateri, 29, of Mission Viejo.
The Yaris driver said she tried to slow down and stop the vehicle as it approached 100 mph but nothing she did had any effect. The woman had rented the 2015 Yaris from Avis for a family trip to Las Vegas.
In addition to the four killed in the Toyota Solara, the driver of the Toyota Yaris lost her 7-year-old grandson in the crash, an accident that according to local reports, left behind no skid marks from the Yaris.
Shortly after the crash, law enforcement authorities said they didn't believe alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, but the California Highway Patrol hasn't released its final report. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took an interest in the crash based on allegations of unintended acceleration, but NHTSA hasn't concluded its investigation.
Toyota has spent years answering accusations about unintended acceleration events, both slow-speed and high-speed events. Research performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA found no evidence of an electronic cause of throttle openings that could result in unintended acceleration incidents.
Historically, the problems have been blamed on sticking gas pedals, floor mats interfering with gas pedals and drivers pressing the gas pedals instead of brake pedals.
However, the automaker has recalled millions of vehicles for problems related to floor mats and sticking gas pedals. In addition, Toyota has faced court cases that cost them big money. After a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2010, Toyota agreed to pay over $1 billion to settle the lawsuit.
In 2015, Toyota was ordered to pay $11 million in damages to crash victims and their families after a jury found the automaker 60 percent liable in a deadly 2006 unintended acceleration crash. In that crash, a man was sentenced to eight years in prison for criminal vehicular homicide, yet the driver kept insisting he tried to stop the Toyota Camry by pumping the brakes.
The Toyota Yaris crash lawsuit alleges certain models of Toyota vehicles, including the Yaris, were defective from the date of manufacture and are unsafe for consumers. Allegedly the vehicles have been manufactured since 2002, all with defects that cause vehicle acceleration without input from the driver.
Once the unintended acceleration begins, a driver has no success in stopping or slowing the vehicle by using the brakes, including the emergency brake. The causes for the acceleration include stuck accelerator pedals, pedals trapped by floor mats and defects in the throttle control system.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the son of Matthew Pusateri, an occupant in the Toyota Solara.