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September 18, 2010

Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement in the product liability lawsuit of the San Diego crash that prompted the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles for defects causing sudden acceleration, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

“Through mutual respect and cooperation, Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached an amicable agreement in mediation that fully resolves these claims without the need for litigation,” Toyota said in a statement.

Neither Toyota nor Tim Pestotnik, an attorney for the Saylor and Lastrella families, has released the amount of the settlement.

Mark Saylor, who was a California Highway Patrolman, his wife, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law died last year on August 28 when their Lexus crashed on a San Diego freeway due to sudden acceleration. A frantic 911 call from occupants of the Lexus recorded the last minutes before the accident occurred. An investigation found that a wrong size floor mat might have entrapped the pedal.

The Saylor crash prompted Toyota’s global recall of 5.4 million of vehicles for defective floor mats that could entrap the gas pedal. After further investigation by Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, the carmaker recalled 4.5 million vehicles to replace defective pedal assemblies that could stick.

U.S. safety regulators fined Toyota Motor Corp. $16.4 million in April 2010 for the company’s delay in issuing a recall for the defective accelerator pedals.

Before the Saylor crash, there were hundreds of sudden acceleration complaints and investigations already opened regarding the issue. Since the recall, the NHTSA has received thousands of complaints, including 93 deaths associated with the defect, reports The New York Times.

Hundreds more sudden acceleration cases against Toyota await trial.

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