A US jury cleared Toyota of liability for a 2009 fatal accident involving unintended acceleration, in what the Japanese automaker hopes is a bellwether verdict for similar cases.
Toyota, which still faces dozens of US lawsuits alleging that defects caused cars to accelerate without their driver wanting to do so, welcomed the ruling after a two-month trial in Los Angeles.
Sixty-six-year-old Noriko Uno died on August 28, 2009 after her 2006 Camry collided with another vehicle and then lost control at speeds of up to 90 mph, before slamming into a tree.
In the LA trial, the first in a series of consolidated cases, her family argued that Toyota failed to include a brake-override system that would have prevented the crash.
But the LA Superior Court jury ruled in favor of the Japanese carmaker, whose lawyers argued that Uno had simply put her foot on the gas pedal instead of the brake.
US Toyota spokeswoman Carly Schaffner said the company was "gratified" by the jury's decision that the design of the car "did not contribute to this unfortunate accident."
The verdict affirmed "the same conclusion we reached after more than three years of careful investigation -- that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle at issue in this case.
"As an important bellwether in these consolidated state proceedings, we believe this verdict sets a significant benchmark by helping further confirm that Toyota vehicles are safe with or without brake override," she added.
Last December Toyota said it had agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit launched by US vehicle owners affected by a series of mass recalls from the Japanese automaker.
Toyotadid not accept any blame but agreed to compensate owners who argued that the value of about 16.3 million vehicles took a hit from dozens of deadly accidents allegedly caused by Toyota vehicles speeding out of control in 2009.
The deal covered the cost of installing a free brake override system in about 2.7 million vehicles. It also provided cash payments to those who sold cars after the recalls or who own vehicles ineligible for the override system.