MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Koua Fong Lee and other survivors of a crash involving a Toyota Camry are suing the automaker for damages.
Lee’s Camry rear-ended another family’s car eight years ago, killing three people. Lee claimed the car was at fault but was found guilty of criminal vehicular homicide.
He spent two years behind bars before evidence surfaced of other Toyotas experiencing sudden acceleration and questions about the adequacy of his defense came up. Lee was set free in 2010.
Federal Court Judge Ann Montgomery recently had the difficult task of finding 12 jurors and 2 alternates out of the more than 80 potential jurors.
She wants to keep the focus of this case on the car so the judge is limiting what attorneys can tell the jury about Lee’s criminal conviction and prison sentence.
It was a crash that connected two families in the worse way.
Lee was driving home with his family from church on June 10, 2006, when the car accelerated at a high rate of speed.
Lee’s Toyota Camry rear-ended a car carrying members of the Trice-Adams family. Three people lost their lives as a result.
Now these families are united in a lawsuit against the automaker they believe is responsible for this loss of life.
Lee claims a design defect in his 1996 Camry’s accelerator control system caused the throttle to stick, forcing the car to accelerate. He also claimed the brakes were unresponsive.
But Toyota says the accelerator and brake systems in Lee’s car were well-designed and did not malfunction.
Lee’s car was never subject to the recalls Toyota issued as a result of reports of sudden acceleration.
The automaker issued a statement saying Toyota is committed to providing its customers with safe and reliable vehicles, including the 1996 Camry driven by Lee.
Montgomery dismissed Lee’s request for compensation because of his jail sentence.
Opening statements in the case are expected Thursday morning.
The trial should last the rest of the month.