A woman blames Toyota for her daughter's death by carbon monoxide poisoning, because its Smart Key system let her Lexus keep running silently without a key in the ignition. Toyota faced a similar complaint in New York last October.
On the evening of August 25, 2010, Chastity Glisson returned to her home in Boca Raton, Fla., and parked her 2006 Lexus IS 250 in the garage beneath her three-story apartment.
The car, like many newer model vehicles, was equipped with a Smart Key system, which uses a remote-control key fob to lock, unlock and start the engine. The driver does not have to remove the fob from pocket or pursue – merely entering the car and pushing a “Start/Stop” button to start and stop the engine.
The suit alleges that the fobs require a change in consumer behavior, as most motorists are accustomed to inserting a key to start their car and removing the key to stop it.
Engine continued running
Glisson either forgot to turn off the engine or perhaps did not push the “Stop/Start” button hard enough, the suit says. In any case, the engine continued running after Glisson entered her apartment with the key fob in her purse.
Glisson and another occupant of the apartment, Timothy Maddock, retired for the evening, unaware that her car continued running in the garage, emitting deadly carbon monoxide, which seeped into the apartment above.
Friends and family members became concerned when they did not hear from either Glisson or Maddock the next day. Police went to check on the victims' welfare and found Glisson dead and Maddock unconscious.
Tests found a dangerously high level of carbon monoxide in the apartment and an autopsy found that Glisson had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Maddock was severely injured.
In the suit, Glisson's mother, Kimberlin Nickles, argues that Toyota should have known that the fob system was dangerous and could result in a consumer's accidentally leaving the engine running, even though the key fob had been removed from the vehicle. The suit argues that Toyota and its sales agents are guilty of negligence.