LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit with the families of four people who were killed in an accident that led to the automaker’s recall of millions of vehicles over unintended acceleration concerns.
The settlement was reached in September, but the amount was not made public at the time after both Toyota and the plaintiffs agreed to keep the deal confidential.
The Los Angeles Times reported the amount today after it was disclosed to the paper by an attorney representing Bob Baker Lexus, a defendant in the case, located near San Diego, Calif.
The dealership lent California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor a 2009 Lexus ES that, Saylor’s family alleged in the suit, contained defects that caused the vehicle to accelerate uncontrollably and ultimately killed Saylor, his wife, brother-in-law and daughter. The families of Saylor and his wife agreed to drop the suit against Toyota and the dealership in exchange for the settlement.
Toyota neither admitted nor denied liability in the settlement.
In a statement posted on its news media Web site, Toyota said it was “disappointed” that the sum of the settlement was made public, as the families and Toyota “reached a private, amicable settlement through mutual respect and cooperation without the involvement of the courts.”
“Unfortunately, Bob Baker Lexus, along with the Orange County District Attorney and several news organizations, fought to make the amount of the settlement public, and the court agreed to do so,” Toyota said in its statement.
“Indeed, Bob Baker Lexus already knew the terms of the settlement. However, Mr. Baker now wants the amount publicized in an apparent effort to shift the focus away from his dealership as he continues to litigate this case with the families.”
In its statement, Toyota went on to note that the police report about the accident said the accident was caused because of an “incompatible” floor mat that was “installed incorrectly” in the vehicle loaned to Saylor by the dealership.
“Our deepest sympathies remain with the friends and family of Mark, Cleofe and Mahala Saylor and Cleofe’s brother Chris Lastrella,” Toyota said in the statement. “However, as in the past, Toyota will continue to defend itself vigorously against the misleading allegations Bob Baker Lexus is making against Toyota. Toyota is not, however, in a position to address the additional negligence claims the families have against Bob Baker Lexus that are independent of Toyota.”
A negligence suit against the dealership is still pending, the Times reported.