Toyota is being sued in a case where a lawyer was killed, and his companion rendered brain damaged, from carbon monoxide poisoning from a luxury Lexus, according to the New York Daily News.

The wrongful death lawsuit blames the keyless feature that was part of the Lexus sedan for causing the death in Queens of attorney Ernest Codelia Jr., 79. His female companion, Mary Rivera, lived but can’t walk and has a hard time talking.

Rivera,  who the News said is a former school superintendent and adjunct professor at Fordham University, parked her Lexus in a garage attached to the couple’s home in Whitestone in February 2009.

But she accidentally left the engine running, and the next day her family found her unconscious on the floor of the bedroom, while Codelia was dead in the bed. His blood was loaded with carbon monoxide.

The lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, charges that Toyota, which makes the Lexus, failed to put in a  “shutdown”  switch on the luxury model, according to The News. That button would automatically turn off the ignition when the car is unoccupied or untouched for a period of time, the tabloid reported.

There is at least one similar cases pending in Florida, where authories are probing whether a woman who died of carbon-monoxide poisoning in August was done in by the keyless Lexus in her garage.


2 replies
  1. John Vole
    John Vole says:

    This will happen more often with these key less ignitions. Children playing with a remote start button left on a counter could start a car in the garage and wipe out a whole family. We developed the first of its kind garage door opening carbon monoxide alarm. They can be purchased on EBAY. just type in second chance carbon monoxide alarms or email us direct at

  2. kelly
    kelly says:

    how wonderful there is a garage door opening carbon monoxide alarm! I will purchase one.

    the fact that the vehicle does not have an automatic shut off, as some do, or it failed is key in this case. most automatic starts have a ten minute limit of run time before the engine automatically shuts off.

    I am saddened to learn of this preventable tragedy. My sympathy to both families and friends touched.


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