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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota hopes for new trial after judge awards crash victims 208 million

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]

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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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.