Judge Anthony Mohr, who is overseeing some 100 sudden acceleration lawsuits against Toyota Motor Corp. in state courts in California, has set a trial schedule. A high-profile wrongful death case will go to trial by January 1, 2013. The judge scheduled jury selection in the first bellwether case to begin as early as November 1st in Los Angeles. The case involves the death of a woman whose 2006 Toyota Camry hit a telephone pole. Judge Mohr said in his order last month that jury time-qualification will begin between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 and that the trial will begin after Jan. 1, with the specific date to be determined. The so-called bellwether trial involved the claims by the family of Noriko Uno, who died in 2009 when, they allege, her Camry unintentionally accelerated and struck a telephone pole.
Simultaneously with the wrongful death case, Judge Mohr will hear evidence for the lawsuit filed by the Orange County District Attorney against Toyota in 2010. It was alleged in that suit the carmaker endangered the public by knowingly selling defective vehicles. Witnesses who testify in the Uno case will testify if needed in the District Attorney’s case without the jury present, according to the judge.
Judge Mohr also selected two other bellwether cases, one proposed by the Plaintiffs, as was the Uno case, and one proposed by Toyota. U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, who is in Santa Ana, Calif., and who oversees the coordinated federal lawsuits against Toyota over unintended-sudden acceleration, has scheduled the first of three trials in his court for Feb. 19, 2013. So things will be very busy on the Toyota front.
As has been widely reported, Toyota, the world’s second-largest automaker, recalled at least 8 million U.S. vehicles starting in 2009, after claims of defects and incidents involving sudden unintended acceleration. The recalls resulted in hundreds of economic-loss suits and claims of injuries and deaths.
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