Toyota Highlander Wrongful Death Lawsuit Claims Driver’s Seats Defective

The family of a California woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota, alleging that a defective seat design in the Toyota Highlander resulted in fatal injuries in a rear-end accident.

The complaint was filed by Robert Francis Wall, Jr. on December 19, in California Superior Court in Santa Barbara County, following the death of his 68 year-old wife, Linda Wall, who was killed in late 2013, after her Toyota Highlander was rear-ended and forced into the vehicle in front.

According to allegations raised in the Toyota Highlander wrongful death lawsuit, the rear-end impact caused the driver’s side seatback on Wall’s 2004 vehicle to break and fall in the fully reclined position. As a result, Wall struck her head on the rear seat and suffered a blunt force trauma to the neck, resulting in cervical vertebral fractures.

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In addition to Toyota, the lawsuit also lists Rebecca Sandoval as a defendant, who was the driver of the Jeep Wrangler that rear-ended Wall’s vehicle.

Sandoval was allegedly high on nitrous oxide, often referred to as laughing gas, at the time of the accident. Just the day before, her car had been impounded, after she was found in front of Vandenberg Air Force Base crying and acting irrationally. After she was taken to a hospital, base personnel investigated her vehicle and found a number of used and unopened nitrous oxide containers.

She retrieved the car the next day and, according to the lawsuit and law enforcement, continued to abuse the nitrous oxide and hit Wall’s vehicle while under the influence.

In addition to the wrongful death lawsuit, Sandoval also faces murder, felony manslaughter, and driving under the influence (DUI) charges in relation to the accident and Wall’s death. She is currently in custody awaiting a January 14 hearing.


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