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Toyota Settles “Sudden Acceleration” Case In Utah

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The Toyota Motor Company has agreed to settle one of its “sudden accelerator” product liability cases in Utah that killed two people and injured two other family members. The case was set to go to trial in February. Details of the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

In December, Toyota agreed to settle hundreds of claims in a class action for individuals who declared that they suffered economic losses due to a recall of millions of its cars because of sudden acceleration issues. That settlement was reported to be for more than $1 billion.

However, hundreds of other plaintiffs who are suing for serious personal injuries and wrongful death were not included in that massive deal. Those cases are pending and the Utah case was one of the bellwether cases set to go to trial first. Typically, bellwether cases are large cases based on the same theories of recovery, which judges and lawyers use as guidelines for evaluating cases that follow.

The Utah settlement was reached for an accident that involved Paul Van Alfen, his wife, son and his son’s fiancee, Charlene Jones Lloyd. Their accident occurred on November 5, 2010, on I-80 close to Wendover, Utah. As they were traveling on the interstate, their Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated, went through a stop sign at the bottom of an exit ramp and struck a wall. Skids evidenced Van Alfen’s attempt to stop the vehicle as it left I-80.

The accident resulted in two fatalities, Van Alfen and Lloyd. Van Alfen’s wife and son received injuries.

An investigation conducted by the Utah Highway Patrol revealed that the collision occurred because the accelerator was stuck, causing the Camry to suddenly accelerate.

Other settlements have recently been reported, including one involving a retired Los Angeles police officer and another involving a California Highway Patrol officer. In the latter case, the patrol officer and his entire family were killed near San Diego in 2009 when their Lexus suddenly accelerated, hit speeds of over 120 miles per hour, flipped and burst into flames. Investigation revealed that the accelerator had been mashed down by an improperly sized floor mat.

Toyota issued a statement that the recent settlements should not be an indication of what’s to come for other pending lawsuits. In other words, Toyota is going to pick and choose the weaker cases that they take to trial and settle the larger, stronger headline cases.

The company continues to stand behind the safety and integrity of their cars, while blaming these tragic accidents on driver error, faulty floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals.


If you or someone you know has encountered a problem with any Toyota vehicle resulting in inexplicable sudden acceleration that has caused serious injuries or wrongful death, you need to talk to an experienced San Antonio product liability lawyer.

Product liability cases are extremely complex and vigorously defended by a team of experienced trial attorneys. When choosing a lawyer to represent you, you must choose wisely and pick a firm that has the where-with-all to follow through until a settlement is negotiated or your case is tried.

Carabin & Shaw is based in San Antonio. We have an experienced team with resources to help fight the long hard battle that is ahead in your products liability case. We have offices conveniently located throughout the state for your convenience.

Contact us online or call us in San Antonio at (210) 222-2288 for your free, confidential consultation. For contact 24/7, call our toll free number at (800) 862-1260.

Our firm will never charge you a fee unless we get a settlement for you.

Other Resources:

Toyota settles in case of 2 killed in Utah crash, Houston Chronicle, Associated Press Article by Andrew Dalton, January 18, 2013
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