Toyota to Pay $11 Million For a Fatal Crash in Minnesota

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( — February 4, 2015)  — Toyota stands as the company that makes the world’s most reliable cars, however, a jury concluded that the accelerator defect in a 1996 Toyota Camry caused a fatal car crash in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2006.

The Minnesota trial started as a lawsuit filed on behalf of the passengers injured or killed in the crash. According to court documents, the driver Koua Fong Lee, who later joined the suit, claimed that his 1996 Toyota Camry inexplicably began to accelerate as he approached other vehicles stopped at an intersection.

Reportedly, the Camry slammed into an Oldsmobile Ciera, killing the driver, Javis Trice-Adams Sr., and his 9-year old son. A 6-year old girl who was also in the car was paralyzed and later died. Two other passengers were seriously injured. The family of the injured and killed passengers filed a lawsuit in 2010 accusing Toyota.

The Japanese automotive giant denied that the car was at fault and defended that the driver was negligent. The jury, however, found the Camry’s driver 40 percent responsible for the crash, while Toyota has been found 60 percent responsible and sentenced to pay $11 million dollars.

Lee was charged for vehicular homicide and sentenced to nearly three years in prison.  In 2010, however, reports of the unintended acceleration in other Toyota vehicles start to emerge, so Lee won a motion to set a lawyer for the estate of the 6-year old girl and one of the injured passengers aside his conviction and was released from prison.

According to Reuters, the lawyer of the estate of the 6-year old girl and one of the injured passengers, Bill Markovits, said that his clients felt vindicated by the jury’s verdict.

Lee’s lawyer, however said his client is satisfied that the jury has rejected Toyota’s attempts to lay the blame entirely on him, though he won’t be able to regain the years he spent in prison. At least, he is alive and has been well compensated.

Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles between 2009 and 2010 over the issues with the accelerator.