A defect with a Toyota Camry was partially to blame for a St. Paul crash that killed three people, and the carmaker has been ordered to pay almost $11 million in damages to those involved.
Koua Fong Lee spent two years in prison after crashing his 1996 Camry into the back of an Oldsmobile in 2006, killing Javis Trice-Adams Sr, his 9-year-old son, his 6-year-old niece Devyn Bolton, and permanently injuring two others.
A jury at U.S Federal Court in Minneapolis on Tuesday rule that Toyota was 60 percent responsible for injuries sustained in the 2006 crash, FOX 9 reports, with Lee found to be 40 percent responsible.
The family of Trice-Adams, Lee and his family were among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the carmaker, alleging that a defect in the Camry had caused the crash. Toyota has been told it must pay out around $11 million to the victims and their families, KARE 11 reports.
Lee was adamant that a fault with his vehicle meant he could not stop his car, and was released from prison with the help of the Minnesota Innocence Project after Toyota reported some of its models had been experiencing acceleration issues.
Lee's Camry was not included among the models Toyota identified as having problems, but the lawsuit alleged that the crash was caused by a similar defect with his car.
The Star Tribune reports that Lee's attorney, Bob Hilliard, argued that every time Lee tapped the gas pedal in the run-up to the crash, the accelerator stuck at increasingly higher speeds, and he crashed despite pumping the brakes several times.
The Japanese carmaker argued that the crash was the fault of driver error, saying Lee had panicked at the sight of upcoming traffic and had hit the accelerator rather than the brake.