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Personal Injury Legal Cases

2005 Toyota Corolla Defective Auto Parts Lead To Violent Accident, Catastrophic Injury

SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF ORANGE

ELIAS CHICO, Plaintiff,

vs.

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A., INC., A California Corporation, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY, NORWALK TOYOTA and DOES 1-100, Defendants.

CASE NO.: 30-2008-00110699
[UNLIMITED CIVIL]

PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR PERSONAL INJURIES FOR:

  1. Strict Product Liability
  2. Negligence (Product Liability)
  3. Negligence

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Comes now Plaintiff, ELIAS CHICO, and for causes of action against Defendants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A, INC., A California Corporation

QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY, NORWALK TOYOTA and DOES 1-100, and each of them, allege as follows.

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL CAUSES OF ACTION

  1. At all times herein mentioned, Plaintiff ELIAS CHICO was and is an individual and resident of the City of West Covina, County of Los Angeles, State of California.
  2. At all times herein mentioned, defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, was and is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of Japan with a principal place of business in the City of Tokyo, Japan; TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, U.S.A, INC., a California Corporation, was and is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of California, with a principal place of business in the County of Los Angeles; and DOES 1 through 100, and each of them, were individuals, corporations, partnerships, and/or associations residing in and/or authorized to and/or doing business in the County of Los Angeles, State of California.
  3. At all times mentioned in this Complaint, Defendants, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY is and was a corporation under the laws of the Country of Canada, with its principal place of business in Tecumseh, Ontario. QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY designs, develops and manufactures occupant resistant components and systems for all major automotive manufacturers in the world. QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY's components and systems are therefore marketed and sold in automobiles throughout the world including the United States of America and the State of California. Defendant QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY designed, manufactured and sold the occupant restraint system equipped in the 2005 Toyota Corolla at issue.
  4. At all times herein mentioned, Defendant NORWALK TOYOTA, was and is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of California, and had a principal place of business in the City of Norwalk, County of Los Angeles, State of California.
  5. The true names and/or capacities, whether individual, corporate associate, governmental or otherwise of defendant Does 1 through 100, inclusive and each of them are unknown to the Plaintiff, who therefore sue said defendants by such fictitious names. When the true names and/or capacities of said defendants are ascertained, the Plaintiff will seek leave of this Court to amend the Complaint accordingly.
  6. The Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereupon alleges, that each defendant designated herein as a Doe was responsible, negligently or in some other actionable manner, for the events and happenings herein referred to which proximately caused the damages to the Plaintiff as hereinafter alleged, either through said defendant's own negligence or through the conduct of its agents, servants, employees or representatives in some other manner.
  7. The Plaintiff is informed and believes and based thereupon alleges that at all times mentioned herein the defendants and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives and/or joint venturers of their co-defendants and were, as such acting within the course, scope and authority of said agency, services, employment, representation and/or joint venture in that each and every defendant, as aforesaid when acting as principal, was negligent in the selection and hiring of each and every other defendant as an agent, servant, employee, representative and/or joint venturer.
  8. The Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereupon alleges that at all times mentioned herein each of the defendants, including Defendant Does 1 through 100, inclusive, and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives of each of the remaining defendants and were at all times material hereto acting within the authorized course and scope of said agency, service, employment and/or representation, and/or that all of said acts, conduct and omissions were subsequently ratified by their respective principals and the benefits thereof accepted by such principals.
  9. At all times mentioned herein, Defendants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A, INC., A California Corporation, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY and DOES 1-100, were and are engaged in the business of manufacturing, fabricating, designing, assembling, distributing, selling, inspecting, servicing, repairing, marketing, warranting, leasing, renting, selling, retailing, wholesaling and advertising a certain subject 2005 Toyota Corolla, license plate number 5PUB020, VIN 1NXBR32E65Z564255 hereinafter "SUBJECT VEHICLE"), and each and every component part thereof, which defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, would be used without inspection for defects in its parts, mechanisms or design, for use in the State of California and elsewhere.
  10. At no time at or prior to such sale did said Defendants ever issue any warnings or notifications about any dangers or safety issues extant in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, nor did said Defendants ever advise the Plaintiff that the vehicle was not mechanically sound or unsafe to operate.
  11. On or about April 14, 2007, Plaintiff was the properly restrained driver of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, traveling northbound on Brea Blvd. 3895 feet south of Tonner Canyon Rd. in the unincorporated area of Orange County, State of California. Plaintiff ELIAS CHICO, lost control of the SUBJECT VEHICLE due to the defects inherent in the vehicle, and the vehicle drifted across the southbound lane and collided head-on with another vehicle ejecting the plaintiff through the right front door. Due to the defective seat belt restraints, seat backs, window systems, and/or door latches gave way, precipitating plaintiff to be ejected from the vehicle, thereby causing severe personal injuries and trauma including traumatic brain injury (TBI), epidural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, multiple skull lacerations, skull fractures, right femur fracture, left ankle fracture, left humeral fracture, and right pulmonary contusion.
  12. Plaintiff ELIAS CHICO was transported to UCI Medical Center, where he underwent a series of operations, procedures, care and medical treatment.
  13. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION - STRICT PRODUCT LIABILITY

    (Against Defendants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A, INC., A California Corporation, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY, NORWALK TOYOTA AND DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive)

  14. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference each of paragraphs 1 through 12, above, as though fully set forth herein.
  15. Defendants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A, INC., A California Corporation, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY, NORWALK TOYOTA and DOES 1-100, and each of them, knew that the SUBJECT VEHICLE was to be purchased and used without inspection for defects by the users of that vehicle including but not limited to the Plaintiff ELIAS CHICO who was at all times herein mentioned, the legal purchaser and owner of the SUBJECT VEHICLE.
  16. The SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts was manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, adjusted, selected and used with inherent vices and defects both in design and manufacturing and by failure to warn (hereinafter "SUBJECT DEFECTS") which made it dangerous, hazardous and unsafe both for its intended use or for reasonably foreseeable misuses.
  17. These SUBJECT DEFECTS included, but were not limited to the following.
    • Defective and unsafe restraint system, including but not limited to seat belt webbing which tore and failed in the subject accident to restrain the occupant. Further, seat buckles, seat belts, shoulder belts and retractors, defects including but not limited to retractor failure(s), which defendants and each of them knew and were aware would fail properly, adequately, and safely to restrain an occupant in the event of an accident, and which, in this case, failed properly, adequately, and safely to restrain the plaintiff, and which further facilitated the ejection of his body during the accident sequence.
    • Defective and unsafe door latch on the front passenger's side door that failed to hold the door closed on the vehicle during the accident sequence.
    • Defective and unsafe window system which did not comply with and failed to fulfill the purposes of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205 in that the window system did not reduce or mitigate injuries resulting from impact to the glazing surfaces and did not minimize the possibility of occupant's being ejected from the vehicle windows in collisions. The entire window system, its frame and design of the structure, as part of the occupant retention system, failed to restrain the plaintiff who was ejected and thrown through the defective vehicle's window system during this crash, causing severe personal injuries to the plaintiff. Defendants knew and were aware that the window system of the SUBJECT VEHICLE would fail and create openings for occupant ejection in the event of an accident, and which in this case, did create a portal in the passenger's side door/window allowing the plaintiff to be ejected during the accident sequence, and causing ultimately severe personal injuries. Despite the availability to defendants of the knowledge and technology to use window frame systems as part of an overall occupant retention system, defendants did not utilize such occupant retention window systems in the side and rear windows of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, which occupant retention window systems would have prevented the ejection of Plaintiff's body during the accident sequence.
    • Lack of any warnings and/or insufficient warnings regarding the above defects.
  18. Said product and each of its component parts were unsafe for its intended use and reasonably foreseeable misuses by reason of the defects in its design and/or manufacturing and/or failure to warn by said Defendants, and each of them, in that when the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts were used by Plaintiff, on or about April 14, 2007, as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, the SUBJECT VEHICLE, during reasonably foreseeable driving maneuvers, was dangerous and did suffer a loss of control, and did eject the Plaintiff legally resulting in Plaintiff's severe personal injuries and damages as set forth herein.
  19. As a direct and legal result of the defects in the SUBJECT VEHICLE and its components and subcomponents, Plaintiff has suffered severe personal injury damages, including special and general damages in a sum in excess of the minimum subject matter jurisdiction of this Superior Court according to proof at trial.
  20. As a further and direct result of the conduct of defendants and each of them, plaintiff suffered severe personal injuries, has incurred medical expenses and sustained permanent injuries and pain and suffering, all to this Plaintiff's damages in a sum in excess of the minimum subject matter jurisdiction of this Superior Court according to proof at trial.
  21. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A, INC., A California Corporation, QUALITY SAFETY SYSTEMS COMPANY, NORWALK TOYOTA and DOES 1-100, and each of them intentionally engaged in conduct which, with respect to the SUBJECT DEFECTS which Plaintiff alleges was a legal cause of his loss, damages, injuries and harm, further exposed Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE to serious potential danger known to said Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests and thus acted with a conscious disregard for the safety of the Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, warranting an award of exemplary damages against Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, and TOYOTA MOTOR SALES U.S.A., INC., and DOES 26 through 50, pursuant to California Civil Code § 3294, and the rule enunciated in Ford Motor Co. v. Home Ins. Co. (1981) 116 Cal. App.3d 374, 381-382 and PPG Industries, Inc v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1996) 49 Cal. App.4th 1120. The facts supporting the Defendants' intentional conduct which exposed Plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE to serious potential danger known to the Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests, are on information and belief, as follows.
    • Since 1970, defendants and each of them have been aware that use of unsupported, tempered glass in the side and rear windows of their vehicles was contributing to serious occupant ejection problems in frontal and side impact and rollover accidents. In 1970, Roger P. Daniel, a Ford research engineer, published the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper 700423, which Defendants and each of them received and/or participated in, in which Mr. Daniel reported that "the increasing use of unsupported tempered side glass appears to have adversely influenced the frequency of partial and complete occupant ejection through the side glass areas." Mr. Daniel recommended that in order to better retain vehicle occupants completely within the passenger compartment during accidents, the use of a substantial metal framework along with the use of laminated glass, similar to that used in current American windshields, (or ejection resistant glazing) would achieve maximum durability and minimum laceration potential. In spite of the clear explanation of the problem and a feasible solution that would save lives, defendants and each of them ignored such data and have failed to take action to use appropriate materials to prevent vehicle occupant ejection by using a substantial metal framework along with laminated glass or ejection resistant glazing.
    • In addition, in 1984, the U.S. Government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published SAE Technical Paper 840390; and in 1985, SAE Technical Paper 851203, and in 1989, SAE Technical Paper 890218, which set forth the analysis and testing by NHTSA Researchers Carl C. Clark and Peter Sursi, of alternative glazing opportunities to reduce or eliminate ejection and resulting injuries and fatalities. In the 1989 report, NHTSA advised Defendants that ejection was involved in about 25% of all passenger car fatalities and 40% of light truck and van fatalities and that ejection through unsupported glass areas, in a specific passenger car study, accounted for about 60% of all ejections. NHTSA reported their own dynamic roll over tests demonstrating that a modified frame, along with either laminated windshield-type glass or other glass-plastic glazing could eliminate most ejections through glass openings. Defendants and each of them received and/or participated in these NHSTA studies and SAE Technical Papers and in spite of this knowledge and awareness, defendants ignored and suppressed data, and further falsely mis-characterized adverse test data which the Defendants knew at the time tended to prove that the window systems being used in the rear and side windows of their vehicles, were defective and unsafe in real world rollover and/or side skid accidents, and would and did expose members of the public and users of said Defendants' vehicles to death and serious head and spinal injuries due to the insufficient and defective window systems being used in such vehicles.
    • In 1995, the NHTSA issued a report entitled, "Ejection Mitigation Using Advanced Glazings: A Status Report," which report further documented the size of the problem and described the testing NHTSA had done with an alternative design, a prototype glazing system using a modified door and modified glazing materials.
    • Moreover, after Defendants, in concert with other auto manufacturers, provided no constructive response to the NHTSA data on elimination of most ejections through glass openings, NHTSA convened a public meeting in Washington, D.C., in 1996, during which NHTSA presented detailed test data, cost analysis and manufacturing lead time data on several alternative designs that included alternative glazing proposals, estimating the reduction in fatalities and incapacitating injuries, such as the Plaintiff's here, that would result from alternative designs with improved glazing. Defendants' representatives were present at this meeting and simply responded that all drivers and passengers do not always use seat belts, flatly ignoring those statistics that evidence the drivers and passengers who do wear seat belts and are injured or killed due to the defective restraint systems that are defective and fail, as set forth herein. In fact, many ejected and seriously injured occupants, such as the occupant in this case, are in fact belted, yet those restraint systems fail.
    • In August 1999, NHTSA published another report entitled, Ejection Mitigation Using Advanced Glazing: Status Report II, which estimates that alternative window system designs with either laminated glass or other advanced glazing systems would reduce annual fatalities by 500 to 1300 each year. Defendants, again, received and/or participated in this report, yet the only reason defendants have not used inherently safer window system designs with either laminated glass or other alternative glazing is and was to save money in an environment where they knew, through various questionable inter-manufacturer contacts, that their competition would similarly save money rather than use readily available technology to save lives and prevent injuries.
    • Finally, in August 2001, NHTSA published its final report entitled "Ejection Mitigation Using Advanced Glazing: Final Report." In that report, NHTSA provided the Defendants with the evaluation and testing of four different alternative designs for window/door/glazing systems. Four types of glazing were evaluated: high penetration resistant (HPR) trilaminates, non-HPR trilaminates, bilaminates and polycarbonates. The prototype systems included modifications to the front door window frames to provide improved occupant retention, while maintaining the window's ability to be operative. Preliminary estimates showed incremental production costs of $48 - $79 per vehicle. The results indicated that all but the non-high penetration resistant (HPR) trilaminates had good potential for providing adequate occupant retention. NHTSA's final report indicates: Advanced glazing systems have the potential to yield significant safety benefits by reducing partial and complete ejections through side windows, particularly in rollover crashes. However, because NHTSA did not require that the alternative designs it tested for window/door systems be used, and NHTSA also recognized that other safety countermeasures could also prevent ejections, Defendants did nothing to prevent ejection. The 2001 NHTSA report specifically recommended to automobile manufacturers that advanced glazing systems be evaluated as one component of comprehensive ejection prevention and mitigation strategies that include alternative ejection countermeasures such as inflatable head protection and/or rollover protection systems.
    • Despite the longstanding recommendations of knowledgeable and caring automotive engineers and despite the ten year study of the issue of ejection by NHTSA and its recommendations of alternative window/door system designs to prevent ejection, Defendants chose to ignore the inherent safety problem of occupant ejection, and took no action to prevent such debilitating injuries and deaths, because of concern about cost penalties. Defendants' decision to save money at the expense of innocent human life and pain and suffering constitutes, despicable conduct and callous disregard for the safety of the motoring public, including plaintiff. Defendants' failure to act is enhanced by the similar acts of their competitors, and is shameful and shocking that such a large, powerful and influential industry has for years conspired to resist obvious major opportunities to improve motor vehicle safety by improving the design of the window systems in automobiles, trucks, vans and SUVs, all to advance their own pecuniary interest.
  22. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, USA, INC. and DOES 1 through 5, and each of them intentionally engaged in conduct which, with respect to the SUBJECT DEFECTS, Plaintiff alleges was a legal cause of his loss, damages, and severe injuries and harm, exposed him and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE to serious potential danger known to the Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests and thus acted with a conscious disregard for the safety of the plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE and its defective seat belt buckle and restraints systems, and its lack of side air bags, warranting an award of exemplary damages against Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, USA, INC., and DOES 1 through 5, inclusive, pursuant to California Civil Code § 3294, and the rule enunciated in Ford Motor Co. v. Home Ins. Co. (1981) 116 Cal. App.3d 374, 381-382 and PPG Industries, Inc v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1996) 49 Cal. App.4th 1120. The facts supporting the Defendants' intentional conduct which exposed the plaintiff and other users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE and its defective seat belt buckle and restraints systems to serious potential danger known to the Defendants in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests, are on information and belief, as follows.
  23. At all times herein mentioned, the SUBJECT VEHICLE was equipped by the Defendants with a certain type of seat belt buckle manufactured pursuant to instructions from Defendants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, USA, INC., and DOES 1 through 5, inclusive. The purpose of the safety belt system, including the buckle, is not only to keep the occupant/driver inside the vehicle but also to reduce the risk that the occupant/driver will hit the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, and/or other interior components of the vehicle, in the event of a crash, thereby sustaining serious or fatal injuries.
  24. Defendants and each of them performed ongoing "Crash" and "Sled" testing of the SUBJECT VEHICLE platform. Such Crash tests involved a test vehicle, from the same platform as the SUBJECT VEHICLE, colliding with an object for the purposes of developing or validating the design of one or more of the vehicle components or systems. These include collisions into different barriers or objects and at different speeds. Such Crash tests performed by defendants, during front and side impacts revealed, among other things, the poor performance of the seat belts and buckles, as well as the the performance of the side air bags.
  25. The Sled tests involved a partial vehicle body utilizing the interior components of the vehicle such as the steering wheel, instrument panel, knee bolster, windshield, and seats. The purpose of such Sled tests was to test the performance of the restraint system or various interior components of the vehicle.
  26. Both of these Sled tests and Crash tests utilized various types of dummies, in different seating positions, depending on the purpose of the tests. During the design and development of the SUBJECT VEHICLE Defendants were required to perform numerous, specific, Crash and Sled tests in order to determine the SUBJECT VEHICLE's compliance with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 208 [occupant crash protection], 209 [seat belt assemblies], 210 [seat belt assembly anchorages], and 214 [side impact protection], among others. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the reports of these tests showed that defendants and each of them knew that the SUBJECT VEHICLE's restraint system did not perform in the event of a frontal impact crash and readily and often such buckles of the restraint systems broke or cracked under the loads present during such tests, in frontal impact crashes such as the reasonably foreseeable one that occurred in this case.
  27. Therefore, plaintiff is informed and believes that as a result of the numerous Crash and Sled tests that defendants were required to perform in order to certify the vehicle's compliance with the above Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Defendants knew that its seat belt buckles were weak and would catastrophically fail in reasonably foreseeable accidents involving reasonably foreseeable accident forces causing the latch plate to load the buckle housing and completely shatter said buckle housing rendering the seat belt buckle totally and completely non functional and a properly restrained occupant to become unrestrained and completely ejected from the vehicle.
  28. Thus, defendants and each of them were placed on notice that the specific seat belt buckle used in the SUBJECT VEHICLE could not withstand reasonably foreseeable frontal impact crashes, such as the crash that occurred in this case, and that the dummies used in such Crash and Sled tests became unrestrained, suddenly and without warning, completely ejected from of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, as did the plaintiff in this case. Had defendants followed the advise of their own automotive engineers, and strengthened the seat belt buckle used in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, it would have withstood the frontal impact crash that occurred in this case, thereby restraining the plaintiff and preventing him from sustaining the serious and permanent injuries and the resulting damages sustained by plaintiff in this case.
  29. Defendants also acted with a callous disregard for the safety of the motoring public with respect to the SUBJECT VEHICLE's lack of any side air bags. Side air bags offer protection to two principal areas of the body, the head and the chest, during side impact crashes. Those that provide head protection are either curtain or tubular air bags and deploy from the roof rail. Those side air bags that provide chest protection are either door mounted or seat mounted. Combination or "combo" side air bags provide both head and chest protection and typically deploy upward from the seat back. Had such side air bags been installed in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, they would have prevented the severe injuries that occurred in this case to the plaintiff.
  30. Defendants by and through their officers, directors and agents, including but not limited to national merchandising manager, Mr. Cecconi and Senior Staff Engineer, Mr. Yonekawa, had marketed the SUBJECT VEHICLE, to attract purchasers such as the plaintiff, who were younger and inexperienced drivers, yet such marketing and advertising did not disclose the heightened risks of complete ejection in frontal impact crashes, without the protection of side air bags. Defendants and their agents, officers and directors, further created a marketing and advertising campaign at or about the time of manufacture of said vehicle, including but not limited to, television commercials and print media depicting the SUBJECT VEHICLE performing as a "safe" vehicle, under certain conditions well known to the Defendants, that were likely to cause the occupants of such vehicles to become seriously injured or killed, and thereafter consciously failed and refused to warn consumers of such risks.
  31. Defendants, by and through their officers, directors and agents, including but not limited to Senior Staff Engineer, Mr. Yonekawa, knew and were fully aware that the occupants of the SUBJECT VEHICLE were susceptible to complete ejection as of and before 2005, when the vehicle platform was first designed and developed, due to the defendants' performance of frontal impact Crash and Sled testing on the SUBJECT VEHICLE and vehicles of other manufacture. Prior to the manufacture of the subject vehicle, defendants knew that its SUBJECT VEHICLE model revealed serious or fatal injuries in frontal impact crashes as evidenced by the results of the numerous Sled and Crash tests. Defendants, by and through is engineers, management or others, developed tests, to determine the likelihood of fatal and serious head and chest injuries in frontal impact crashes, without the protection of side air bags. The Toyota Corolla performed poorly in Defendants' own in house tests. In addition, defendants knew that similar vehicles of other manufactures, did not have the same propensity to injure its passengers in frontal impact crashes.
  32. Thereafter, defendants redesigned its frontal impact testing of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, and it still failed to perform "safely," in violation of Defendants' in house design specifications and requirements. Despite this knowledge that the SUBJECT VEHICLE did not comply with internal standards for frontal impact crashes, and that the SUBJECT VEHICLE would likely result in serious or fatal head injuries in reasonably foreseeable frontal impact crashes, defendants continued to market and manufacture the SUBJECT VEHICLE, intentionally withholding this knowledge and failed to warn purchasers of the vehicle's propensity to render the occupants unprotected and vulnerable to serious or fatal head injuries in frontal impact crashes, without the well known protection of side air bags.
  33. Defendants deliberately, intentionally and falsely, failed to disclose the results of the failed testing and instead, in response to the failed testing performed by defendants, implemented newly designed tests, modified the prior tests and/ or implemented different tests to make it appear that the SUBJECT VEHICLE was not susceptible to such serious, fatal and debilitating injuries, when in fact defendants knew and were fully aware that the SUBJECT VEHICLE's occupants were susceptible to such injuries well before 2005, when the SUBJECT VEHICLE platform was designed and developed.
  34. In addition, in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests, despite defendants' full knowledge of the SUBJECT VEHICLE's occupants' susceptibility to serious and fatal head injuries in foreseeable frontal impact crashes, plaintiff is informed and believes that defendants intentionally and deliberately under produced the "optional" side air bags so that purchasers of the SUBJECT VEHICLE could not purchase the additional protection and defendants knew and were fully aware that the lack of side air bags would increase the SUBJECT VEHICLE's propensity to render its occupants seriously or fatally injured in frontal impact crashes thereby decreasing the already insufficient "safety" of the SUBJECT VEHICLE due to its defective seat belt buckle.
  35. Defendants further knew and were fully aware that certain design modifications, including but not limited to the strengthening of the seat belt buckle and installation of side air bags as standard equipment, instead of optional equipment, would have improved the head protection to the occupants and driver of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, yet Defendants and each of them consciously decided not to utilize such known and available design modifications in order to advance the Defendants' pecuniary interests.
  36. The actions of said Defendants and each of them, as described above, were thus undertaken with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of consumers and users of the SUBJECT VEHICLE, in order to advance the pecuniary gains of the Defendants and each of them, and such actions were despicable because such conduct would and does severely and permanently injure people during the course of the accident which is the subject of this lawsuit.
  37. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and alleges that the decisions made by the defendants and each of them to design and manufacture the SUBJECT VEHICLE with its defective seat belt buckle, the lack of side air bags, and failure to warn regarding these defects, in the defective and dangerous condition, as alleged herein, were made by corporate management of the defendants and each of them, by the product of corporate policy in that such major and strategic design and manufacturing decisions could, by virtue of the corporate structure of the defendants and each of them, be made only at the level of corporate management as the product of corporate policy, given the substantial capitalization requirements and risks associated with such high level design and manufacturing decisions across the entire company, world wide. Plaintiff further alleges that the conduct of the defendants was undertaken with the result that the SUBJECT VEHICLE, with its ultimate defects in its design, manufacture and production were fully intended by the Defendants to reside therein such that they were and are the product of the entire corporate management and corporate policy of the Defendants with respect to the conscious willful and disregard of public safety for defendants' pecuniary gain with regard to the design, manufacture, production and marketing of the SUBJECT VEHICLE.
  38. As a direct and legal result of the aforementioned conduct of Defendants and each of them, an award of exemplary and punitive damages against Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, USA, INC. and DOES 1 through 5, and each of them, pursuant to California Civil Code §3294 and the rule enunciated in Romo v. Ford Motor Company (2002) 99 Cal. App. 4th 11125, and Ford Motor Company v. Home Insurance Co. (1981) 116 Cal. App. 3d 374, 381-382, is proper and appropriate to punish said Defendants and to deter such conduct in the future.
  39. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION NEGLIGENT PRODUCT LIABILITY

    (Against All Defendants)

  40. Plaintiff incorporates, repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation in paragraphs 1 through 37 above, and incorporate the same by reference as though set forth herein.
  41. At all times mentioned, Defendants and each of them, had a duty to properly manufacture, design, assemble, package, test, fabricate, analyze, inspect, merchandise, market, distribute, label, advertise, promote, sell, supply, lease, rent, warn, select, inspect, service, maintain, and repair said product and each of its component parts.
  42. At all times mentioned, Defendants and each of them and DOES 1 through 100 knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts were not properly manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, serviced, maintained, selected and provided inadequate warnings and/or no warnings for the use and purpose for which it was intended in that it was likely to injure or kill the person(s) who used said product, each of its component parts and/or aftermarket parts and/or installation guides.
  43. Defendants, and each of them, so negligently and carelessly, manufactured, designed, assembled, packaged, tested, fabricated, analyzed, inspected, merchandised, marketed, modified, distributed, labeled, advertised, promoted, sold, supplied, leased, rented, repaired, serviced, maintained, selected and provided inadequate warnings and provided the SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts so that it was a defective and dangerous product, unsafe for the respective use and purpose for which it was intended when used and driven as recommended or for reasonably foreseeable misuse by members of the public, including the decedent. In particular, said SUBJECT VEHICLE and each of its component parts during a reasonably foreseeable frontal impact crash, was dangerous and defective in that the restraint system became non-functional and failed to restrain the plaintiff, and the SUBJECT VEHICLE provided no side air bag protection, causing the plaintiff to hit his head, torso and body parts on the interior components of the SUBJECT VEHICLE prior to complete ejection, all causing the plaintiff to sustain severe and permanent injuries, as alleged herein.
  44. As a direct and legal result of the negligence, carelessness, and unlawful conduct of the Defendants, and each of them, and the defects inherent in the vehicle, Defendants legally caused the serious personal injuries of plaintiff, in turn legally resulting in Plaintiff's damages as set forth herein.
  45. THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

    (Negligence against Defendants, NORWALK TOYOTA and DOES 51 through 100 Inclusive)

  46. Plaintiff incorporates, repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation in paragraphs 1 through 42, inclusive, and hereby incorporate the same by reference as though set forth in detail.
  47. At all times herein mentioned, Defendants NORWALK TOYOTA, and DOES 51 through 100 Inclusive, so negligently, carelessly, recklessly, willfully, wantonly and tortiously maintained, serviced, repaired, inspected , serviced the SUBJECT VEHICLE, such that it was mechanically unsound and unsafe for its intended use by Plaintiff.
  48. As a direct and legal result of the negligence of the Defendants and each of them, Plaintiff has suffered the personal injury damages as alleged herein.

WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays for judgment against defendants and each of them, as follows.

  1. For special and economic damages including, medical expenses, loss of past and future earnings and earning capacity, according to proof at trial;
  2. For general damages including damages for personal injuries, pain and suffering and permanency;
  3. For prejudgment interest, as determined by and accrued according to applicable statutes;
  4. For costs of suit incurred herein; and
  5. For any other and further relief the Court deems just and proper.
  6. For exemplary and punitive damages on the first and second causes of action against Defendants TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, TOYOTA MOTOR U.S.A., INC., and Does 1-50.

DATED: August, 2008 Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
By:__________________________________
BRIAN D. CHASE, Esq.
ERIC HANSEN, Esq.
Attorneys for Plaintiff

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury.

DATED: August, 2008 Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
By:__________________________________
BRIAN D. CHASE, Esq.
ERIC HANSEN, Esq.
Attorneys for Plaintiff


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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in various other states through our affiliations with local law firms. Through the local firm we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice.

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