Toyota has had a lot of problems in recent years, primarily stemming from an epidemic of sudden acceleration accidents involving Toyota and Lexus automobiles. After recalling millions of vehicles multiple times, and facing so many car accident lawsuits that the federal courts consolidated them under a single judge, Toyota finally got a glimmer of good news when a report from NASA concluded that the electric systems in the Toyota and Lexus vehicles were not the cause of any sudden accelerations.
Based on the strength of the report and the high quality of its source, Toyota asked the judge in the federal sudden acceleration litigation to take judicial notice of the report's findings. This would mean that Toyota would not have to prove that the results of the report were true; the judge would simply accept the conclusions of the report as a fact.
The plaintiffs in the crash cases have objected to Toyota's motion. They disagree that the results of the report are conclusive enough to be accepted as fact without any further proof.
The plaintiffs assert that they will be able to submit evidence that contradicts the findings of the NASA report. They argue that they will be able to prove that the electric throttle control system in Toyota automobiles was a cause of sudden acceleration accidents. One factor they intend to introduce evidence of is the phenomenon of "tin whiskers," crystalline structures that emanate from tin surfaces. The plaintiffs say that these structures can cause catastrophic damage to electronic throttle control systems.
The trials under U.S. District Judge James V. Selna are expected to begin in 2013.
Source: Bloomberg "Toyota Plaintiffs Challenge NASA Sudden-Acceleration Report" 3/21/2011