BAKERSFIELD, CA – A Bakersfield, California man is asking Toyota Motor Corporation to pay $25 million for his medical care following a rear-end collision in a 1999 Toyota Camry. According to expert testimony presented in court, the vehicle’s faulty seat back failed to protect the driver, Thomas Gutcher, causing him to suffer permanent brain damage.
Gutcher, 55, was driving on U.S. Highway 99 just south of Bakersfield during the afternoon of May 20, 2008. A cloud of dust from nearby farmland blew across the freeway and obscured visibility, forcing traffic to stop.
“Tom slowed down and stopped behind another vehicle,” said James Faulkner, a Bakersfield attorney who represents Gutcher. “While they were waiting for the dust to clear, his Camry was hit from behind and the driver’s seat collapsed rearward.”
Gutcher later went into a coma at the hospital. His two daughters, Laura and Sarah, were passengers in the Camry but got out relatively unharmed.
Also representing Gutcher are Matthew Faulkner and Kathleen Ellis Faulkner of the Faulkner Law Office in Bakersfield, and Leon Russell of Dallas who has sued Toyota on similar cases involving seat failure.
“The only difference between Tom and his daughters is that his seat collapsed. Theirs did not,” said Russell. “If the Toyota driver’s seat had kept him in the front seat area of the car, Tom would have survived without serious injury.”
He noted that Toyota knew about the seat design flaw of their 1999 Camry and failed to warn the public of the danger.
“The Camry is a popular family sedan, which means many thousands of Americans are at risk,” said Russell. “Toyota should be held responsible for the harm it causes.”
The trial is scheduled to last until Sept. 12.
SOURCE: Faulkner Law