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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Toyota Settles $10-million for American-Filipino Family in Car Crash
Toyota Settles $10-million for American-Filipino Family in Car Crash PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 25 December 2010 18:09

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

  

C HICAGO (jGLi) – The Toyota automaker acted as Santa Claus Wednesday (Dec. 23) but its car dealer was a Grinch when Toyota offered $10-million to settle the Toyota car crash that exploded in a ball of fire last August 2009 in San Diego, California, killing a family of four people, three of them Filipino Americans, according to sources of the law office representing the complainants.

 

As a result of the initial settlement, the case against the Toyota manufacturer was dropped. But the case against Toyota car dealer, Bob Baker Lexus of El Cajon, California, “continues” as it “refused to accept any responsibility at all. We look forward to trying the case some time next year,” according to the posting on Facebook© of complainants’ law office, John Gomez, of San Diego.

 

According to the posting, “the family had hoped to keep terms of the settlement confidential but a Los Angeles (California) judge ruled that the public had a right to know. We respect the judge’s decision and are pleased with the settlement.”

 

The posting added, “This was never about money to the family. Toyota accepted its responsibility for our clients’ loss and paid a fair share.”

 

Toyota agreed to pay $10-million to settle the lawsuit that arose from the crash of Lexus ES 350 in Santee, a surburb east of San Diego, that killed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Wesley Saylor, 45, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and his family, including his wife, Cleofe L. Saylor, 45, a native of Nabua, Camarines Sur in the Philippines and a senior research associate; their daughter, Mahala Manda Saylor, 12, a native of San Diego; and Cleofe’s younger brother, Christopher N. Lastrella, 38, a native of Midway Island, Hawaii. They all died on board a Toyota Lexus sedan driven by Mark Saylor. The Saylors were residents of Chula Vista, a suburb south of San Diego.

 

The payment will be finalized at a court hearing on Jan. 3rd. It will be split among three households: John Saylor of Missouri, the CHP officer’s father; Joan Robbins of Missouri, his mother; and Fe and Cleto Lastrella, the parents of Cleofe and Christopher. John Saylor and Joan Robbins are divorced.


The amount was part of a settlement reached in September between
Toyota and the Saylor relatives, who wanted the settlement kept under wraps.

 

Toyota opposed the efforts of Bob Baker Lexus and several media organizations to make the settlement amount public.

 

“Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached a private, amicable settlement through mutual respect and cooperation without the involvement of the courts, so we are disappointed that the amount of this settlement has now been made public against the express wishes of these families and Toyota," according to a Toyota statement.

 

Lexus Loaner Car Was Apparently Defective

 

M ark Saylor took his 2006 Lexus IS250 to Bob Baker Lexus on the morning of Aug. 28 for service. Bob Baker Lexus, in turn, provided Mark a 2009 Lexus ES350 Sedan as “loaner (service) vehicle.”

 

After taking off from work as California Highway Patrol Officer, Mark picked up his family, including his wife, Cleofe, their daughter, Mahala, and Cleofe’s brother, Mark’s brother-in-law, and Mahala’s uncle, Christopher Lastrella.

 

They left home on a family outing. Mark drove north on Interstate 125 on board the “loaned” Lexus, which “began to accelerate on its own” and without Mark “causing it to do so.” A highly-trained driver and law-enforcement officer, Mark attempted to apply the brakes but “he was unable to do so.”

 

Christopher was able to call 911 Emergency, saying, “We’re on North 125 and our accelerator is stuck.” The 911 Dispatcher asked, “I’m sorry?” Christopher repeated to the Dispatcher, “Our accelerator is stuck.”

 

The Dispatcher asked, “Northbound 125. What are you passing?”

 

Christopher responded, “We’re going 120. Mission Gorge. We’re in trouble. We can’t… there’s no brakes. End freeway half mile."

 

Christopher continued, “We are approaching the intersection." Others are heard, saying, 'hold on' and 'pray' as the tragic call ends.”

 

The accident turned into a national debate as Fe Lastrella, the mother of Mark Saylor’s wife, Cleofe, was invited before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., to speak about the car crash.

 

It also got the attention of the world’s largest automaker and prompted Akio Toyoda, the Japanese grandson of the company’s founder, to testify in an extraordinary appearance before a committee of the U.S. Congress.

 

Toyoda spoke before Lastrella took her turn to speak. He apologized to Congress, the millions of Toyota owners and to the Saylor family repeatedly during his three hours of testimony. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

 

 



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Last Updated on Saturday, 25 December 2010 18:13
 

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