Toyota sued over acceleration deaths

LOS ANGELES — Two lawsuits complaining of sudden, uncontrollable acceleration in Toyotas that resulted in deaths in Nebraska and Mississippi were filed against the automaker in Los Angeles federal court today.

Jacquelyn Donoghue of Holder, Neb., said in the lawsuit that her 2006 Toyota Prius suddenly sped up and went out of control in December, slamming into another vehicle, killing her husband John and seriously injuring her.

Her attorney, Robert Nelson, said Toyota vehicles weren’t equipped with a brake-to-idle safety feature which allows drivers to override the electronic throttle and control the vehicle in case of a sudden unintended acceleration.

Other manufactures include this safety feature, and Toyota’s failure to include it on their models played a “direct role” in the death of John Donoghue, he said.

Jacquelyn Donoghue, a 67-year-old nurse, had to move out of her home after the accident so she could live closer to family members who could help take care of her.

Nelson is also representing Teresa and William Myers of Laurel, Miss., the parents of Steffan Myers, a 20-year-old who was killed in an accident on Jan. 10., just days before he started classes at the University of Mississippi college.

The Myers said in a lawsuit also filed today in federal court in Los Angeles that their son’s 2005 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated and smashed into another car, killing both drivers.

Both suits seek general damages, medical expenses, lost earnings and punitive damages.

A message requesting comment from Toyota was not immediately returned. The case was filed in U.S. District Court because the automaker’s North American headquarters is located in Torrance, a suburb of Los Angeles.

Toyota has also been named in several proposed class action suits filed in Los Angeles federal court.

The world’s largest automaker has also been sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of all affected owners of the 2010 Prius and the 2010 Lexus HS250h hybrid. Those models share the same braking system, which has been the object of consumer complaints.

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