The man who was imprisoned after a deadly car accident in 2006 is among those who will receive part of a settlement from Toyota. The car manufacturer was ordered to pay $11 million in total to Koua Fong Lee and to the victims of the car crash, which killed three people.
In 2006, Lee was driving his Toyota Camry when it unexpectedly began accelerating and collided with another car, killing two and injuring three others. One of the injured, 6-year-old Devyn Bolton, was paralyzed from the neck down and died 18 months later. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that there are about 35,000 deaths due to car accidents each year.
Lee was sentenced to eight years in prison for negligent homicide but served only a little more than two years. He was released in 2010 after an ABC News investigation into “sudden acceleration,” which was a mechanical flaw in Toyota models that caused them to randomly take off.
Lee was released with the help of his attorney, who says that the ABC News investigation was very important, along with numerous witnesses who experienced unintended acceleration while driving their cars. Lee has always maintained that the accident was not his fault and that his car was defective.
ABC News reports that a Minneapolis jury ordered Toyota to pay the $11 million this week. About $750,000 will go to Lee, as he was found to be 40% responsible for the accident and Toyota was found to be 60% responsible.
“Liability can be split, but the exact split of this case would not necessarily apply to other cases,” said Rick Hall, business manager for The Tapella and Eberspacher Law Firm. “Splitting liability depends on a number of variables.”
Toyota says that “the evidence clearly demonstrated that Mr. Lee’s 1996 Camry was not the cause of this unfortunate accident,” and the car manufacturer plans to explore its legal options.
The number one cause of lawsuits in America is traffic matters, which perhaps doesn’t come as a surprise considering that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are about 5.5 million car accidents each year.