A Nashville man is claiming the on-board computer in his 2004 Toyota RAV4 went haywire one day last year, causing him to plow into a concrete pole on Charlotte Pike.
Dylan Cruikshank filed suit Monday in Nashville's U.S. District Court against Toyota Motor Corp. and several of the Japanese carmaker's subsidiaries. He seeks $10 million in damages.
The complaint says that on Oct. 18, 2009, Cruikshank was driving west on Charlotte Pike when he made a "slight turn" near the corner of Charlotte and Morrow (just past Wendell Smith's and Bobbie's Dairy Dip). The car "experienced sudden and unwanted acceleration," causing it to run over two signs before running into a concrete pole.
Cruikshank sustained "devastating, permanent and life-altering injuries" in the crash, the lawsuit says, without further specifying the harm he suffered. Memphis attorney Patrick M. Ardis brought the case on his behalf.
The legal action appears to be the first against Toyota in Middle Tennessee's federal court since the sudden-acceleration problem became a major news story in late January.
The lawsuit blames the crash on the vehicle's "electronic throttle control system with intelligence" (ETCS-i), a technology regulating the flow of fuel to the engine. Toyota has said two different issues related to the gas pedal are to blame for the sudden-acceleration phenomenon, and it has recalled millions of cars to address those issues.
But the company has steadfastly denied that automobile electronics are to blame. In a statement issued last month, it stated:
"Toyota has sold more than 40 million cars and trucks with our electronic throttle control system with intelligence (ETCS-i), and the company is very confident that the system is not the cause of unintended acceleration. Toyota engineers have rigorously and repeatedly tested Toyota's ETCS under both normal and abnormal conditions including electromagnetic interference and have never found a single case of unintended acceleration due to a defect in the system."
On Friday, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation chose a judge in the Central District of California to preside over the flood of lawsuits being filed against Toyota across the country. The panel's order would appear to require the transfer of Cruikshank's case to that jurisdiction.