We're alleging that the lateral instability of the 4Runner made it impossible to regain control of the SUV by anyone but a professional driver
Newport Beach, CA (PRWEB) August 5, 2009
The California personal injury attorneys of Bisnar | Chase (http://www.BestAttorney.com) have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota Corporation and Courtesy Toyota of Brandon, Florida (case #YC060158). The suit alleges that the 1998 Toyota 4Runner SUV manufactured by Toyota and sold by Courtesy Toyota failed to properly protect Elisa Obediente during a May 2009 rollover crash that ultimately caused her demise. The action was brought against the defendants by Julio Obediente (Elisa's husband) and their surviving children (Cesar, Julio Jr., Rafael and Sandra Duffau).
Myriad of Defects Alleged
The rollover occurred when Elisa lost control of the 4Runner due to a dynamic over steer as she attempted to avoid another vehicle during a lane change. "We're alleging that the lateral instability of the 4Runner made it impossible to regain control of the SUV by anyone but a professional driver," said John Bisnar of the Bisnar | Chase auto defects law firm. "Our allegations include that this SUV's high center of gravity and narrow track width, as well as the 4Runner's A, B, C and D pillars, windshield headers and roof rails, which lacked the strength to withstand the SUV's weight while inverted. We're saying these vehicle defects resulted in the roof crushing inward, partially ejecting Elisa, causing her to be fatally injured."
Over Steer Problem Correctable with Existing Low-Cost Technology
The 4Runner did not have Electronic Stability Control (ESC) technology, which plaintiff's lawyers contend would have sensed the vehicle's over steer and automatically adjusted the brakes and throttle to allow Elisa to maintain control during the foreseeable traffic condition. ESC technology was available for the Toyota 4Runner in 1995 at relatively low extra cost to Toyota, and plaintiff's lawyers contend that it should have been installed in a vehicle with such instability and rollover propensities.
4Runner Listed as Number Two Most Likely to Roll Over
Prior to its manufacture, the 4Runner was listed as the number two most likely vehicle in its class to roll over, according to a five-state study undertaken by the Federal Registry. In fact, the 4Runner obtained 2-wheel lift from steering inputs alone on Toyota's own in-house "fish-hook" turn tests, with rollover and two-wheel tipping occurring at speeds as low as 32 miles per hour. Plaintiffs allege that Toyota failed to disclose results of subsequent tests that revealed the 4Runner's propensity for rollovers. Also alleged is that Toyota encouraged customers to upgrade to a larger wheel and tire package that would further exacerbate the 4Runner's propensity to roll over.
Roof Crush Problem Ignored
Plaintiffs contend that, since 1968,Toyota Corporation and Courtesy Toyota knew of crash data results, in-house testing, field service reports and published studies, and that Toyota SUVs like the 4Runner were susceptible to roof crush forces that could cause serious and substantial head and neck injuries during a rollover.
In 1984 and 1990, Toyota Corporation and Courtesy Toyota published, participated or received crash dummy specifications for roof crush injury forces. Plaintiffs allege that these specifications were used to establish an inaccurate set of rollover crush force minimums. They further allege that the specifications led the public and U.S. regulatory bodies to believe that the A-pillars/windshield headers and roof rails of Toyota SUVs--including the 4Runner--had been strengthened to withstand higher crush forces.
"We're saying that Toyota knew these specifications were only half of the roof crush impact forces the 4Runner sustained in these rollover accidents," noted John Bisnar. "Our case alleges that Toyota knew these vehicles, used as intended, might expose the public to death and serious injuries; furthermore, they falsified test results, ignored and suppressed data and falsely mischaracterized adverse test data, which they knew would prove their SUVs were defective."
An Issue of Cost and Possible Recall by NHTSA
Plaintiffs also allege that Toyota Corporation and Courtesy Toyota were aware that the use of complete sections, thicker steel and stronger materials in A-pillars/windshield headers and roof rails could have prevented deaths and serious injuries in rollover car accidents, and that these improvement could have been incorporated in the 4Runner for only a small extra expense. Taking this action, plaintiffs maintain, would have resulted in disclosures leading to an expensive recall campaign by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Confusing Advertising and Marketing
"The 4Runner's advertising, marketing, and even its owner's manual implied that their third generation SUV featured advanced engineering and quality construction," noted John Bisnar. "We're saying, just the opposite is true; the 4Runner lacked a myriad of safety features that made it unsafe in a foreseeable rollover accident, one that would occur during everyday collision avoidance maneuvers performed by unprofessional drivers."
The plaintiffs seek compensation for wrongful death, loss of financial support and love, care companionship, comfort, solace and moral support of a lost wife and mother.
About Bisnar | Chase
Bisnar | Chase California Auto Defect Attorneys represent people throughout the country who have been very seriously injured or lost a family member due to motor vehicle defects. The law firm has won a variety of challenging auto defect cases against General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and many of the foreign manufacturers. For more information, read "Still Unsafe At Any Speed: Auto Defects That Cause Wrongful Deaths and Catastrophic Injuries" by Brian Chase.