IADC members Alan Thomas and Lanier Brown, of Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart, along with associate attorney, Chip Jett, and trial paralegal, Corey Thomas, secured a product liability defense verdict in favor of Toyota after a nearly two week trial in DeKalb County, Alabama where the plaintiffs requested more than $4.5 million in damages.
The plaintiffs were returning from a camping trip when the driver lost control of the 2000 Toyota Tundra access cab pick-up truck, which was towing a 26 foot camper trailer. Following significant steering inputs, the Tundra rolled over into a guardrail resulting in the injuries to the four occupants. The plaintiffs alleged that the Tundra’s owner’s manual failed to adequately warn of the truck’s towing capabilities and failed to warn of the proper type and placement of a fifth wheel hitch.
Toyota denied the claims and showed, among other things, that the Tundra was a safe and non-defective vehicle. A former Toyota engineer testified about the extensive testing Toyota performed on the Tundra during development. The testing demonstrated that the Tundra was capable of towing a camper trailer in a 5th wheel configuration. An engineering consultant testified about his independent testing of the Tundra’s capabilities under similar circumstances to disprove the plaintiffs’ theory.
The DeKalb County jury found that the Tundra was a reasonably safe, non-defective, and capable tow vehicle for a 26 foot camper trailer. In doing so, the jury rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that the Tundra’s owner’s manual failed to adequately warn of the truck’s towing capabilities and failed to warn of the proper type and placement of a fifth wheel hitch.