Failure to Include Brake Override Technology Becomes Primary Focus of Toyota Sudden Acceleration Suits

A couple weeks ago, I posted about an individual lawsuit in which the parents of a woman killed in a car crash claimed that the daughter's Toyota suddenly accelerated and forced her car into oncoming traffic. The suit blames the sudden acceleration defect, but, as I noted, it also makes a more far-reaching design-defect argument: that the car should have been equipped with a device that shuts off the accelerator when the brakes are applied -- so-called "brake override" technology.

Now, the LA Times is reporting that, more generally, "[a]ttorneys suing the automaker [have] change[d] their strategy, [and are] no longer planning to build their cases around potential flaws in electronic throttle control systems. In a tactical shift, lawyers suing Toyota Motor Corp. over sudden acceleration are building their cases around the automaker's resistance to installing a brake system that they claim would have prevented deaths and injuries." If I understand this strategy shift correctly, the plaintiffs' cases might not depend on why the vehicle suddenly accelerated -- as between a Toyota defect or driver error. If the brakes and accelerator were operating simultaneously, the car was defective because it did not have a system that would have overriden the accelerator.