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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