Koua Fong Lee insisted he had done everything he could to stop the car. A jury did not believe him and a judge sentenced him to eight years for causing a car crash that killed three people.
Lee was driving a 1996 Toyota Camry that suddenly shot up an interstate ramp, rear-ending another automobile, an Oldsmobile carrying three people. Two died at the scene and one was paralyzed and died shortly after Lee's conviction. Police estimated Lee's car was traveling between 70 and 90 mph.
Lee, who is of Hmong decent, was a recent immigrant and had just received his license. The prosecution argued Lee must have mistakely hit the accelerator instead of the brakes. Lee argued his brakes failed, but a brake inspection revealed no defects. Now, because of the rapdily spreading Toyotoa accelerator problem, Lee's case is being given a second look. I suspect many other cases will be given a second look as well.
The families of the people who died in the tragic car wreck are considering hiring a lawyer and bringing a lawsuit against Toyota if it is determined to have a faulty accelerator. If Toyota made a defective product that injures someone, they can be sued for "products liability." Several similar suits against Toyota have been filed around the country, including some here in Kentucky.
Toyota executives have testifed before Congress and have made admissions that could be used against them in these lawsuits. And while "Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda says he takes full responsibility for any safety problems in Toyota vehicles, and pledges to renew the company's commitment to quality..." We'll see if Toyota accepts responsibility in the lawsuits. I predict they won't.