The family of a Long Island woman who died in a 2007 crash has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit contending that the problem of unexpected acceleration could affect all Toyotas built since 2002.
Tyrene Livingston, 21, of Roosevelt, was killed in October 2007 when her Toyota Yaris - a model not affected by recall notices - went out of control across four lanes of U.S. Route 30 in East Pittsburgh, Pa., and into some woods. Livingston, on her way to a postgraduate teaching internship, was pronounced dead at the scene. Four days before, she'd had the car checked for braking issues and the dealership found no problems, according to the suit.
"We believe it's one of many cases of unintended acceleration," said Robert Nelson, the San Francisco attorney hired by Livingston's mother, Sandra Livingston. The suit was filed Monday in California because Toyota's U.S. operations are there.
"I hope that it will prevent another tragic death," Sandra Livingston said of the suit in a prepared statement. "Her death has been and continues to be most painful to bear, and if Toyota is at fault they should be held accountable and take responsibility for their mistake and make sure that it does not happen again."
There have been several class-action lawsuits filed around the country and in Canada against Toyota for unintended-acceleration recall vehicles, which do not include the Yaris. Toyota officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Although the Yaris has not been recalled for the problem, Nelson said it shares an electronic throttle design with other Toyotas. None of them include a feature that would cut engine power when a driver hits the brakes, Nelson said. Toyota has resisted acknowledging the problem is in the software because "it's a more expensive fix than removing floor mats," Nelson said.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.