Toyota has agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four crash victims who died in August 2009 when their Lexus accelerated uncontrollably to more than 100 miles per hour, smashed into another car, rolled over several times, and burst into flames.
The death of Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol Officer, and three family members riding with him was a crucial event in the Toyota safety scandal. While the automotive giant had already recalled more than 50,000 vehicles as a result of the unintended acceleration, the Saylor death led to followup investigations and the recall of more than 10 million additional cars and trucks in the U.S. due to complaints about sudden acceleration and other problems.
The publicity surrounding the crash also helped spark a wave of lawsuits, and provoked an apology from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to the Saylor family during a congressional hearing last February.
Even with the settlement, which was finalized in September but not disclosed publicly until last week, the litigation on the Saylor case will continue. The car that he, his brother-in-law, his wife, and their daughter were riding in was a loaner from the San Diego dealer Bob Baker Lexus, and the lawsuit says the main cause was the accelerator getting stuck beneath the large all-weather floor mats the dealership installed.
John Gomez, a lawyer for the victims’ family, said that they will continue to seek damages from Baker Lexus, whom they view as the “overwhelmingly responsible” party.
“[W]e’ll ask for a lot more than $10 million against Bob Baker,” Gomez told Reuters. Baker Lexus was included in the initial lawsuit, but was not involved in the settlement between Toyota and the Saylors.