CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.
On January 17, 2013, a federal jury returned a unanimous verdict for Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall Division), finding no defect in a Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle, and rejecting plaintiff's claim that the driver's seat was defective and caused plaintiff's back injury. Owen v. Toyota, Cause No. 2:10-cv-00504, Judge Rodney Gilstrap, presiding.
The accident occurred on a dark night in January 2009, when Plaintiff Joyce Owen was driving her 2008 Toyota Highlander 56 mph (on a road with a 35 mph speed limit) and missed a curve in the roadway. She traveled off the paved surface and into a wooded area where she struck a ditch, and then a tree. Plaintiff alleged the driver's seat was defective and failed to properly attenuate vertical load during the ditch impact, which caused her to sustain an L1 burst fracture.
Plaintiff's liability experts included Stan Andrews (accident reconstruction), Chandrashekhar Thorbole (biomechanics), and David Renfroe (seat defect), all from the Engineering Institute in Farmington, Arkansas.
Defense witnesses included Barry Hare and Motoki Shibata, both engineers from Toyota, who testified at trial. In addition, the defense relied on experts Mike Klima (accident reconstruction), John Miller (seat design and performance), Dr. Bob Banks (biomechanics), and Dr. David Jones (toxicological issues).
Representing the Plaintiff were Geoff Culbertson from Patton, Schroeder & Tidwell in (Texarkana, AR) and Patricia Peden from the Law Office of Patricia Peden (Emeryville, CA)
Representing Toyota were Kurt Kern, Suzanne Swaner and Mark Killingsworth of Bowman and Brooke LLP (Dallas) and Allison Shue of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (Torrance, CA).