unintended acceleration

1995-1996 Toyota Camry.
IFCAR / wikimedia commons

MINNEAPOLIS - A federal jury has ordered Toyota Motor Corp. to pay nearly $11 million to victims of a fatal wreck after deciding a design flaw in the 1996 Camry was partially to blame for the Minnesota crash.

The verdict, which also held the driver partially responsible, was announced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Koua Fong Lee's 1996 Camry crashed into another vehicle in St. Paul. Lee testified he tried to stop, but that the car wouldn't slow.

NHTSA

"The jury is back, the verdict is in."

That’s how Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that faulty electronics played no role in cases of unintended acceleration in Toyota cars.  It’s unequivocal good news for a company attempting to rebuild its reputation.

Last year, Toyota recalled millions of its cars for gas pedal defects that could cause unintended acceleration.

Those recalls shook the company’s reputation for safety like an earthquake.

Dean Stewart is Service Manager for Victory Toyota in Canton, Michigan. The dealership's huge - and nearly empty - service garage, has only one car on a lift that was brought in under a recall.  But last year at this time, the place was bustling:

"I mean we were open 7 days a week, we had two shifts, we were working 90 hours a week just to make sure we could take care of our customers," says Stewart.