The family of a California woman killed in an SUV rollover accident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota alleging that the design of its 4Runner caused the fatal crash.
The Toyota 4Runner lawsuit was filed by the husband and daughter of Elisa Obediente, who died in a May 2009 accident when her SUV rolled over after she over-steered to avoid another vehicle during a lane change. In the accident, the 4Runner rolled over, the roof collapsed inward and Obediente was partially ejected.
According to the complaint, the family claims that the 1998 Toyota 4Runner SUV involved in the accident was inherently unstable and lacked available technologies that could have prevented the rollover and avoided roof crush damage.
The lawsuit suggests that Toyota could have employed Electronic Stability Control (ESC) technology that existed at the time of the vehicle’s development to prevent over steer and rollovers. The plaintiffs claim that the 4Runner is the second most likely vehicle to roll in its class, and that Toyota’s own in-house testing revealed its propensity to roll over at speeds as low as 32 m.p.h.
Toyota also allegedly did not include reasonable alternative designs that could have prevented the 4Runner roof collapse in the rollover. The plaintiffs indicate that Toyota was aware of both the dangers of roof crush damage and the availability of affordable technology to prevent the damage long before the SUV was developed. Plaintiffs allege that the use of stronger materials would have prevented catastrophic consequences of the rollover at little additional cost for the development and manufacture of the SUV.
Toyota purposefully mislead the public, falsified test results, suppressed and ignored data and even urged consumers to have alterations done to the 4Runner that caused even more instability, the lawsuit claims. The family seeks compensation for wrongful death, loss of financial support, care, love, companionship, solace, comfort and moral support.