The Murthas, of Cortlandt, has launched a lawsuit against Toyota in White Plains.
According to the text of the lawsuit, Nancy Murtha was driving the family's Lexus RX350 SUV "at a safe rate of speed" along a Cortlandt road on July 29, 2008. Jacob was safely strapped into a rear seat at the time. The plaintiff claims that at one point during their drive, Murtha stepped on the brakes. However, the SUV accelerated rather than slowed, "and Mrs. Murtha was unable to stop the vehicle as it careened out of control," the lawsuit claims.
The vehicle proceeded to run off the road and slam into a stone wall, knocking the driver unconscious and leaving the toddler strapped into the back seat with "severe traumatic injuries."
The boy died several hours later. Murtha, who spent six days in a coma, lost her spleen and part of her intestine in the accident and suffered injuries to her neck, back and right leg. The plaintiff continues to suffer from residual effects from the crash, the suit says, not to mention the emotional trauma of losing her youngest son.
The couple is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit, which is one of 80 lawsuits filed in 40 states against the manufacturer with regard to allegedly faulty accelerators.
Toyota has been under fire for many weeks over the sticking accelerator issue (as well as suspicions of ill-fitting floor mats and faulty electronics) and is seizing the opportunity to fight back by questioning recent reports of rapid acceleration.
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And a report last week that a housekeeper who crashed into a stone wall while easing her employer's car out of the driveway due to a malfunction of the accelerator, is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A subsequent inquiry suggests that the 56-year-old woman had never applied the brakes.
The acting police chief told the New York Post that he had not dismissed driver error as a potential cause.