Family Settles Crash Suit With Toyota, Targets Car Dealer
Saylor Family Attorney Says Bob Baker Lexus Is Sole Focus
8:11 AM, Sep 20, 2010
A family's decision to settle a lawsuit against automaker Toyota over a crash that killed four people in August 2009 was a tough one, according to their attorney."It was a good thing for them, to put some part of the case behind them," said John Gomez, attorney for the Saylor family.Sources close to the family said the decision to settle was not easy. The runaway Lexus crash that killed off-duty CHP officer Mark Saylor, his wife Cleofe, daughter Mahala and brother-in-law Christopher Lastrella also shined a spotlight on Toyota's sudden acceleration problems.Cleofe Saylor's mother, Fe Lastrella, testified at congressional hearings and received an apology from Toyota's president. Gomez said Toyota's response factored into the decision to settle.According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the settlement was $10 million."We've seen as a result of this case, the congressional hearings, some improvements in Toyota's vehicles. So I think, from their perspective, what they hoped for out of this lawsuit has been accomplished," said Gomez.Gomez added the suit accomplished something else and told 10News, "Now we're not fighting a two-front battle. We're focused entirely on Bob Baker."Bob Baker Lexus was the auto dealer that provided the Saylors with the loaner car. An investigative report revealed a San Diego man had reported floor mat and acceleration issues to the dealer, but said nothing was done to fix it.Lawyers for the dealership said they were abandoned by Toyota and should have been included in the settlement."I think our expectation from the beginning was that Bob Baker would be protected," said Larry Willis, attorney for Bob Baker Lexus.10News learned Bob Baker Lexus will cite mysterious sudden acceleration issues as the cause of the crash, not the floor mat.In a hearing Monday in Santa Ana, a judge said he will decide if the settlement is fair and should be made public.Lawyers for the Saylor family believe a decision will happen in about 30 days.