Shortly after issuing the ruling mentioned above, Judge James Selna chose a Utah crash that killed two people as the first “bellwether trial” in the nationwide litigation over whether Toyota Motor Corp. made defective vehicles that sped up unexpectedly. In his order, Judge Selna set a February 19, 2013 trial for the bellwether case, concerning claims raised by the families of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Lloyd. Mr. Van Alfen was killed when the 2008 Toyota Camry he was driving slammed into a wall opposite an exit ramp off an Interstate highway near Wendover, Utah. Ms. Lloyd, a passenger, died from injuries she received in the crash.
The 2010 crash came after the Camry unexpectedly accelerated and did not stop even after Mr. Van Alfen applied the brakes. Mr. Van Alfen’s wife Shirlene and son Cameron were injured in the crash. All have sued Toyota. Bellwether cases are important because their outcomes serve as a benchmark for future cases. Judge Selna said in his order that holding a trial in early 2013 will “markedly advance” the Toyota litigation and that a wrongful death case is most likely to meet that goal.
Source: Insurance Journal
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