A jury in Minnesota federal court found that an accelerator flaw in a 1996 Toyota Camry was the cause of a 2006 fatal car crash in the state and ordered Toyota Motor Corp. to pay almost $11 million. According to plaintiffs’ lawyers, Toyota was found 60 percent liable for the crash while the driver, Koua Fong Lee, was found 40 percent responsible.
The plaintiffs have claimed that the crash was a result of a fault in the accelerator causing it to become stuck, and the brakes failed to work. The carmaker, however, denied that the Camry was at fault, saying the driver had been negligent. A spokeswoman for Toyota, Amanda Rice, said the carmaker was weighing its legal options.
A lawsuit was filed against Toyota on behalf of passengers injured or killed in a 2006 crash in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lee, later joined the suit, saying that his 1996 Toyota Camry inexplicably started to accelerate as he approached other vehicles stopped at an intersection, court filings say.
The vehicle then slammed into an Oldsmobile Ciera, killing its driver, Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and his 9-year old son. A six-year old girl in the Ciera was paralyzed and later died while two other passengers were seriously injured, according to the lawsuit.
Lee was charged and served nearly three years in prison for vehicular homicide, lawyer Robert Hilliard said. In 2010, Lee won a motion to set aside his conviction, and was released from prison.