“After the verdict but before the jury could decide on punitive damages, Toyota decided to settle this case and a large set of outstanding sudden-acceleration cases. The reason Toyota became anxious to settle may have been the expert testimony of Michael Barr, an embedded software systems expert who had been allowed to examine the source code of Toyota’s engine-control system and who found terrible problems with the system’s design. The problems, said Barr, made it theoretically possible that a software failure would both trap the throttle in a wide open position and disable the very systems that should notice the problem. Perhaps worse for Toyota, Barr found many problems throughout the software, any one of which would indicate shoddy engineering practice.?”
Mitch Trachtenberg is a freelance writer and computer programmer. He lives in Trinidad, California.