Toyota Knew All Along

Photo of Brant Stogner

It has been recently reported that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigators discussed brake override measures with Toyota back in August of 2007 to address the sudden acceleration defect. Emails and an internal Toyota memorandum were obtained by Congress which show that NHTSA officials discussed brake override software back in 2007 with Toyota Motor Corp. Apparently, the safety regulators suggested that Toyota install brake override software designed to stop the car even if the engine is accelerating. The suggestions to Toyota were prompted by complaints of Toyota and Lexus vehicles racing out of control. The internal Toyota emails also show that Toyota considered the idea and even learned that at least two manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen) were already using brake override at the time, and another (Nissan) had recently announced it would be installing the technology. Ultimately, Toyota did not adopt brake override, either for new models or by recalling any models. Instead, Toyota recalled floor mats in about 55,000 vehicles.

Although internal, "confidential" memos are showing that Toyota reconsidered the idea of brake override in 2008 and ordered an internal feasibility study on the issue, Toyota did not adopt the feature. It was not until after the August 2009, Lexus crash near San Diego that Toyota considered the issue again. This was a crash where an officer, his wife, his daughter, and his brother-in-law were all killed after making a 911 call regarding sudden acceleration. This prompted Toyota to issue a massive recall of floor mats, but again, Toyota did not decide to implement brake override technology. In the next months, NHTSA officials claim that they put "pressure" on Toyota to implement brake override technology after determining that changing the floor mats did not solve the sudden acceleration defect.

In January of 2010, Toyota began installing brake override technology in recalled models. Toyota has also stated that it will make such technology standard equipment on all new cars by the end of 2010. There are reports that the sudden acceleration defect may be responsible for at least 56 deaths and hundreds of injuries. While new floor mats and new gas pedals have all been tried, hopefully this "new" brake override technology will finally remedy the sudden acceleration defect. While this is little consolation for the victims have been harmed since Toyota knew about the defect, at least Toyota is finally doing something about it. There can be no argument that the technology did not exist or that it was unfeasible, given that Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen were already implementing it in 2007, and Nissan had just started to implement it.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories