Auto makers have a responsibility to protect consumers from potential hazards, notes product liability experts Berkowitz and Hanna LLC. In an interesting and complicated wrongful death case, a Minnesota jury found that Toyota and a driver were both partially to blame for a 2006 auto accident.
In 2006, Koua Fong Lee was driving his Toyota Camry when it slammed into another vehicle at a high speed after he exited Interstate 94 in St. Paul, Minn. He claimed that he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t slow down. Three passengers in the other vehicle, including two children, died. Two others were badly hurt. Lee was convicted of vehicular homicide and served 2½ years in prison before he was set free in the wake of news that Toyota did indeed have issues with sudden acceleration in some of its vehicles.
Lee’s attorney claimed that “the Camry’s auto-drive assembly could stick, and when tapped or pushed while stuck, it could stick again at a higher speed” and also “accused Toyota of never conducting reliability tests on nylon resin pulleys that could be damaged.”
Although Toyota still denies that there was any defect in the 1996 Camry, a jury found the car company was 60 percent to blame for the 2006 auto accident and Lee was 40 percent to blame. Toyota must pay $11 million in damages to the families of the victims of the crash, and $2 million was awarded to the Lee family (the amount was reduced to $1.69 million because he was found 40 percent liable.) Berkowitz and Hanna LLC knows that wrongful death cases, particularly those involving auto accidents, can be complicated and has expertise in this area.
Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.
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