Toyota Hopes for New Trial After Judge Awards Crash Victims $208 Million

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

In the wake of a Dallas County judge’s decision to lower the amount of money awarded to a couple whose children were injured in a 2016 rear-end crash, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to continue fighting to clear its name.

A jury found the automaker at fault back in August, deciding that the seatbacks on the family’s 2002 Lexus ES300 were faulty and that the owners were not warned about the dangers. The family stood to receive $242 million in compensation. Due to monetary caps placed on punitive damages in the state of Texas, the final amount was pared back to $208 million.

Toyota isn’t letting the matter slide into the rear-view. The automaker continues to claim that the car’s seatbacks worked fine — the severity of the impact was to blame.

Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were stopped on Dallas’ North Central Expressway two years ago when their ES300 was rear-ended at high speed by a Honda Pilot. The front seatbacks collapsed, causing serious injury to their children, aged 3 and 5, who were strapped into car seats in the rear.

“While we respect the jury’s decision, we remain confident that the injuries sustained were the result of factors specific to this very severe collision, not a defect in the design or manufacturing of the 2002 Lexus ES300,” a Toyota spokesman told Reuters following the verdict.

Frank Branson, lead trial attorney for the Reavis family, argued that Toyota prioritized the safety of front-seat occupants over those in the rear, submitting evidence showing what he claimed were structural and design flaws in Toyota’s seats. “The men and women on this jury paid close attention to the evidence and the law in determining that Toyota deserved a sizable punishment,” he said in a statement his week. “We’re pleased that the judge looked closely at the trial record and made his ruling.”

The ruling doesn’t sit well with Toyota, which continues to argue that the impact was simply too strong for the seats to withstand.

“While we respect the court’s decision, we believe that the judgment suffers from serious flaws and that the law requires entry of judgment in Toyota’s favor,” a Toyota spokesperson told Automotive News. “We look forward to presenting the trial court with additional arguments for a new trial, and, if necessary, pursuing further review.”

[Image: Toyota Motor Corp]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Gtem Gtem on Oct 31, 2018

    Don't get IIHS too many ideas. Announcing, the new rear-impact at 80mph test! Everything is failing, wow, how horribly unsafe! Gotta stay relevant folks!

    • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Oct 31, 2018

      ...with occupants in the 3rd row of a crossover with their headrest against the back window.

  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Nov 01, 2018

    Amount of the judgement is unreasonable.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three