Tort Law

Judge Nixes Secrecy Pact in High-Profile Fatal Toyota Crash Settlement; Automaker Paid $10M


Although Toyota Motor Corp. and the plaintiffs agreed to keep secret the amount the automaker paid to settle a lawsuit over a fiery high-speed crash that killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three family members, a state-court judge held the settlement couldn’t be confidential.

Ruling earlier this week on a motion to seal the settlement by surviving relatives of the officer, Mark Saylor, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge said the public had a right to know about settlement, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Dramatic audio of a cell phone conversation with one of the occupants as Saylor sought to stop the speeding car helped publicize acceleration problems concerning both the Lexus he was driving and other Toyota vehicles.

Those who sought to preclude the settlement from being kept secret included the newspaper, a Lexus dealer who loaned the car to Saylor and the Orange County district attorney.

Toyota, which expressed disappointment about the ruling, apparently isn’t going to appeal. The parties to the settlement have until Dec. 30 to withdraw it, if they wish.

Related coverage

ABAJournal.com: “Plaintiffs Lawyers Consider Injury, Economic Loss Claims Against Toyota”

10 News (Aug. 2009): “4 Killed In Fiery Santee Crash Believed Identified”

San Diego Union-Tribune: “Cost of Toyota-Saylor settlement: $10 million”

Wall Street Journal Law Blog: “Price Tag for Sudden-Acceleration Crash: $10 million”

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