World's No.1 automaker Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay $10 million to a family of four people who were killed in a runaway Lexus crash near San Diego last year that prompted a string of recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles.
Off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, 45, his wife, their daughter and Saylor's brother-in-law Chris Lastrella were killed in August 2009 in a suburban San Diego freeway, when a rented Lexus in which they were travelling, after reaching speed of more than 120 mph, struck a sports utility vehicle, bounced off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames.
Subsequent investigations determined that a floor mat had jammed the accelerator pedal, not allowing it to spring back as designed.
Following the fatal crash, Toyota had recalled nearly 5 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010 to address the problem. The automaker has also incorporated a brake override system in Lexus vehicles since then.
The fatal crash has also prompted the filing of hundreds of lawsuits that have since been filed and consolidated before a federal judge in Orange County over claims stemming from sudden acceleration in several Toyota models, and brake glitches with the company's Prius hybrid.
John Gomez, a lawyer who represents the victims' family, and Larry N. Willis, who represents the dealership that lent the Lexus to the family, have confirmed the settlement amount.
As part of the settlement, Toyota did not admit or deny liability. The automaker, however, expressed disappointment over the public announcement of the settlement amount as it felt that the release of the settlement details could affect other lawsuits litigation and hurt its reputation.