It's been a good news/bad news week for Toyota in the courts.
On the bad news front, Toyota is being sued for its flop of a collision-avoidance system. The good news? In a completely separate case, a jury in Los Angeles found that the Toyota Camry was not the cause of Noriko Uno's death in 2009.
According to Bloomberg, plaintiffs had argued that Uno's Camry was unable to stop and should've been equipped with a brake override system. After deliberating for nearly five days, the jury lay blame for the fatal incident on another driver, who hit Uno's car before it sped into oncoming traffic. That collision, paired with Uno's medical condition, resulted in "cognitive impairment", which prevented her from stopping the Camry. Key to Toyota's defense was the fact that 66-year-old Uno didn't attempt to brake.
Jurors recommended that the driver of the other vehicle pay $10 million to Uno's husband and son. The lawyer for that driver has indicated that his client will appeal the verdict.
Prevailing in a trial like this is bittersweet. Even though Toyota was cleared of any wrongdoing, there's still the matter of the Uno family, which is left without a wife and mother.
That said, it's a very important win for Toyota. For starters, it means that the automaker has prevailed in three out of three unintended acceleration lawsuits that have gone to trial. That's no small feat.
But more importantly, Uno's case was examined by other plaintiffs who have similar lawsuits pending against Toyota. Those plaintiffs decided that Uno's case should be granted bellwether status, meaning that its findings will be considered in those other lawsuits. Toyota's win in Los Angeles could give it a significant edge in subsequent unintended acceleration cases.