A jury in Oklahoma County, Okla., is expected to begin deliberations Thursday afternoon in a case against Toyota Motors in which attorneys allege an electronics defect caused a Toyota Camry to accelerate suddenly, leading to an accident that killed one woman and seriously injured another, according to the Associated Press.
If the jury were to rule against Toyota, the effects would likely reach far beyond the Japanese automaker and would touch an embedded system community that has been virtually wired into the automotive industry.
This case -- one of a host of lawsuits filed against Toyota concerning unintended acceleration in its vehicles -- is the first in which the plaintiff has laid the blame squarely on the electronic throttle system. The focus is on software and electronics used in the electronic throttle control, rather than the entanglement of the accelerator pedal with a floor mat -- something Toyota previously cited as a cause of accidents. The case (Bookout v. Toyota Motor Corp. CJ-2008-7969, District Court, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma) hinges on whether a software bug and/or a glitch in car electronics can kill a person.
Jean Bookout, then 76, was driving a 2005 Toyota Camry when it crashed in 2007. She was injured, and Barbara Schwarz, a 70-year-old passenger, was killed. Attorneys for Bookout and for Schwarz's estate maintain that the accident was the result of a flaw in Toyota's electronic throttle system.
Toyota's lawyers, disputing the claim, were scheduled to make their closing arguments Thursday morning, with jury deliberations to follow.