Philadelphia Toyota Dealer Ordered to Pay $15.7 Million in Product Liability Case

Filed under: Personal Injury by Contributor @ April 1, 2013

After a five-week trial and a day and a half of deliberation, a Philadelphia jury awarded a total of $15.7 million to plaintiffs in a product liability lawsuit against Central City Toyota. Dr. Noreen Lewis was driving a Toyota Sienna minivan rented from PhillyCarShare and serviced by Central City Toyota when a ball joint broke and sent the minivan rolling down a ravine. She was travelling with five passengers, who are the other plaintiffs in the suit. Dr. Noreen Lewis, a family physician, has no use of her left arm as a result of the accident. She was awarded $11.4 million for her injuries and $4.3 million was divided among the five passengers.

The accident occurred on March 8, 2008, approximately four months after the vehicle was inspected on December 3, 2007 by Central City Toyota. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the ball joint was defective when the minivan was inspected, making Central City Toyota liable in the lawsuit. Initially, defendants in the lawsuit included Toyota Motor Corporation, several Toyota affiliates, and PhillyCarShare, but the plaintiffs dismissed these defendants from the trial.

In its defense, Central City Toyota made three claims: the ball joint was not defective either before or after the vehicle was inspected; PhillyCarShare should have told Dr. Lewis to stop driving the minivan when the check engine light came on and it started shimmying; and Dr. Lewis was driving too fast for being on a wet road. Central City Toyota and its expert witnesses’ credibility took a major blow, however, when the jury learned on cross-examination how much the experts were being paid for their testimony – revealing a possible bias. A senior mechanical engineer from Utah was paid $100,000, and a mechanical engineer from Texas was paid $300,000. But in the end, jurors indicated that the main factor influencing their decision was the evidence showing that the faulty ball joint was the cause of the accident.

Initially, Dr. Lewis was seeking $15 million in damages and the other five plaintiffs were seeking $2.85 million. During the trial, Central City Toyota offered $1.7 million to settle the case. Now, the plaintiffs are seeking to add $1.5 million in interest.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact a personal injury lawyer at Fairlie & Lippy today.


  1. Bernard Dixon says:

    (Toyota Going Places)
    On Wednesdays February 5, 2014 about 5:30pm , I was driving my 2006 Toyota Tundra to work. As I was making a right-hand turn onto I-95 South, the front left-hand side of my truck collapsed.

    To my surprise the Ball joints head separated from the suspension, the left bottom front suspension was dragging the highway and the left front wheel was now stuck under the running board. This accident also damaged the left front bumper, the left front fender and the left front door. Needless to say I was traumatized. I saw no warning that this accident was about to happen. I kept my truck in immaculate condition and had regularly maintenance done at this Toyota dealership.

    We decided to do a search on the Web to see if any recalls existed and there is a recall on the 2006 Toyota Tundra for this exact issue. However when I called Toyota Corporate and provided my VIN number – low and behold my truck was not in that recall (my VIN# missed it by 15 days).

    The Toyota representative asked me to take my truck to the local Toyota dealership and get a written estimate. At my own expense, I had the truck towed and after about two days my repair expenses were denied by Toyota. However, I was offered $750 toward the purchase of a new Toyota for being a loyal customer. I purchased three new vehicles from this Toyota dealership (2006, 2007, & 2008). After fighting with the dealership and Toyota Corporate for a day and half, I was asked to move my truck out of their shop. So at my expense my 2006 Tundra was towed back to my house (Toyota Going Places). Without exaggeration, a lot of people are going to get hurt if fatalities do not occur due to this defect. Toyota need another recall.

    Toyota Going Places – If the ball joints don’t fall out
    Sincerely yours,
    06 Toyota Tundra Owner

  2. We have not had contact with the above individual beyond reading his post, so we cannot verify or vouch for the accuracy of the information in the post. However, we are interested in hearing from anyone else who may be dealing with this issue so that we can contact Toyota on behalf of the owners and hopefully prevent this from happening to anyone else.

  3. Brad says:

    I am actively dealing with Toyota over a failed lower ball joint. They are refusing to pay for any of it. This could have been a lot worse if I was going at speed. Like the article up top worse. They’re fighting me over $400 in repairs caused by a failed part they made and acknowledge would fail. It just baffles me. Had I have known about the recall, the repair would have been done.

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