A jury in Peoria, Ill., has ruled in favor of Toyota Motor Corp. in a case involving the unbelted driver of a Camry who was killed when the airbag was deployed.
The family of Margaret Ribando, who died as the result of airbag-related injuries, sued Toyota, claiming the airbag system in her Toyota Camry was defective because the airbags deployed in a minor low-speed accident that caused little damage to the vehicles. The collision occurred when Ribando's 3-month-old 1994 Camry was rear-ended while stopped in traffic and pushed the Camry into the car in front of her.
The family further charged that the design and manufacturing of the airbag system were defective and that warnings about airbags were inadequate.
During the trial in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court,
the design defect and warnings claims charges were dropped. The case then focused on the alleged manufacturing defect.
Toyota's attorneys from the Minneapolis law firm of Bowman and Brooke argued that the airbag deployed within Toyota's design specifications. They also claimed that vehicle-to-vehicle crash testing demonstrated that the Camry experienced a change in velocity within Toyota's specifications for airbag deployment, and that Ribando's head was positioned in direct contact with the driver's side airbag module at the moment of the deployment.
Ribando was not wearing her seat belt, which allowed her to get out of position and too close to the airbag, Toyota's lawyers argued.
After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of Toyota.
Toyota spokesman John McCandless said: 'We are sad about the tragedy but we feel our design was right.'