Paraplegic sues Toyota for defective restraints

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Oct 11, 2007

1998 Toyota 4-Runner

MARSHALL – Failing to stop at an intersection in Lewisville, an empty gravel-hauler truck slammed into David Williams' 1998 Toyota 4 Runner, rendering him a permanent paraplegic.

Williams believes his significant injuries are due to a defective occupant restraint system, specifically the back and head restraints, which made his vehicle "unreasonably dangerous."

Williams and his wife filed the motor vehicle product liability suit against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Technical Center and Toyota Motor Sales on Oct. 3 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the plaintiffs' original complaint, Carlos Alberto Castro, an employee of Rivera Trucking, failed to stop the gravel hauler at an intersection and collided into Williams' stopped Toyota 4-Runner.

The lawsuit asserts that Toyota is responsible for Williams' damages due to negligence and strict liability for defective design, manufacture and marketing of the 1998 Toyota 4-Runner. The complaint states that safer alternative designs for the occupant restraint system could have prevented the rearward seat failure.

Williams maintains Toyota failed to warn its customers of the "unsafe design characteristics" and that the occupant restraint system "might not adequately restrain in a rear impact." Williams also claims that the mandatory federal standards for the seats and occupant restrain systems were inadequate for public protection.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, pecuniary expenses, economic losses, permanent disfigurement and disability. Williams' wife is seeking damages for the loss of her husband's "care, maintenance, support, advice, services, counsel, comfort, contributions of pecuniary value and household services."

In addition, the lawsuit seeks exemplary damages "from defendants' fraud, malice, willful acts, omissions, or gross neglect" due to Toyota's conscious indifference to the welfare and safety of its consumers

Representing the plaintiffs are Marshall attorneys Carl R. Roth and Michael C. Smith of the Roth Law Firm and Dallas attorney Leon R. Russell.

Currently, defendants have not responded to the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward has been assigned to the case.

Case No.: 2:07cv00442

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