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2 Toyota execs must testify in Flint crash death

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2 Toyota execs must testify in Flint crash death



Toyota's top two U.S. executives must appear Thursday and Friday in Troy for questioning by lawyers for the family of Guadalupe Alberto, Genesee County Circuit Judge Archie Hayman ordered today.

Alberto died in April 2008 after her 2005 Toyota Camry allegedly surged from 25 to 80 mph near her home in Flint. Representatives of her family have sued Toyota and Denso, one of Toyota's largest suppliers, alleging that Alberto's death was caused by a defect in the car's electronic throttle control system that Toyota had known about for several years.

Toyota attorneys had filed a motion to protect Yoshimi Inaba, chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., and Jim Lentz, president and chief operation officer, from testifying in the case.

Andrea Moody, a lawyer representing Toyota today before Judge Hayman, argued that Alberto's attorneys could obtain the information they sought from lower level Toyota employees.

Eric Snyder, a Charleston, W.Va., attorney representing the Alberto family, said he needed to depose Inaba and Lentz because they represented the automaker's public face after testifying before congressional committees in recent weeks.

Hayman ordered Inaba and Lentz to appear Thursday and Friday in the Troy offices of Bowman & Brooke.

"It certainly would appear that these gentlemen are well informed on the issues that are at the core of this case," Hayman said.

A Toyota spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

Toyota has recalled about 5.8 million vehicles in two separate campaigns tied to complaints from several hundred owners who have experienced unintended acceleration. Toyota's U.S. dealers are removing floor mats that may become entrapped beneath gas pedals. They also are repairing about 2.3 million gas pedals to prevent them from sticking in a partially engaged position.

Toyota said no malfunction in any electronic component has caused unintended acceleration, although it is still exploring other possible causes.



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