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An Oklahoma City jury has found that electronic defects in a Toyota Motor Corp. vehicle caused it to accelerate out of control and crash into a wall, killing a passenger and seriously injuring the driver.

The verdict, handed down late Thursday, requires Toyota to pay a total of $3 million in compensatory damages to Jean Bookout and the family of the deceased passenger, Barbara Schwarz. They were the sole occupants of a 2005 Camry that crashed in Eufaula, Oklahoma, in September 2007.

The jury will award punitive damages in the case as well, based on its finding that Toyota's actions were in "reckless disregard" of others. Deliberations on the second set of damages will begin on Friday.

A Toyota spokesman confirmed the verdict but said the company could not comment while the case is ongoing. Attorneys for the plaintiffs also declined to comment.

The decision marks the first time a jury was convinced by arguments that faulty electronics -- in this case those involving the Camry's electronic throttle system -- could cause a Toyota vehicle to accelerate uncommanded.


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Toyota will probably appeal the case and on and on it will go. In the end the only winners will be the lawyers.

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