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February 9th, 2011

Experts Clear Toyota. Will Judges?

Though a Feb. 9 Washington Post editorial partly blames “politically induced hysteria” for last year’s wave of “unintended acceleration” (UA) lawsuits against Toyota, The Post stops well short of specifically illuminating the symbiotic relationship between politically powerful personal injury lawyers and the congressional lawmakers, such as Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who routinely do their bidding.

In any case, despite what the hyperbolic plaintiffs bar and its lawmaking minions tried to make us believe with their carefully coordinated show hearings and lawsuit filings, the rather dry executive summary of the newly released study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes clear there are no design or manufacturing defects in the electronic throttle system of Toyota and Lexus vehicles.  Incidentally, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineers led the government’s scientific research in this matter.   

Instead, says the report, “pedal misapplication,” i.e. driver error, was behind practically all of the reported “runaway car” horror stories that we were force-fed by an insufficiently skeptical media throughout the summer and fall of 2010.

The only real question left is this: Will judges presiding over now discredited UA lawsuits do the right thing and dismiss them in light of solidly scientific evidence proving them meritless?  Don’t hold your breath; and don’t expect trial lawyers to stop arguing that their bought-and-paid-for experts are smarter than NASA’s experts.  (“Hey, your Honor, my dad can beat up his dad!”  “Cannot!”  “Can too!”)

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