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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lee case an embarassment for Toyota

Amidst claims that Toyota's customers have been steppin' on the accelerator instead of the brake, along comes the troublesome case of Koua Fong Lee.  Wrongfully convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison (see my 8/7/10 post), Lee has steadfastly maintained that he was hitting the brakes in a desperate effort to stop his Camry after it suddenly sped out of control resulting in the deaths of three people.  The keyword here is wrongfully, because after serving two and a half years, the charges were dropped, highlighting false testimony - that went unchallenged - and evidence that was witheld at Lee's trial.  'Tis the nature of these two items that sounds a sour note for Toyota's blame-the-customer bandwagon.

At Lee's trial, a mechanic testified falsely that Lee's car did not have anti-lock brakes, the existence of which would have offered an explanation for the absence of skid marks.  And Lee's attorney witheld a letter from Lee's insurance company confirming that the brake lights were engaged when the accident occurred.  Adding insult to injury, Lee's attorney sided with the prosecution in his closing statement to the jury, saying Lee probably stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake.  Sound familiar?  Its now clear that Lee's version of events was supported by the facts all along.  Hmmm... 

Just when the breeze seems to be blowin' in Toyota's favor, the case of Koua Fong Lee stands in stark contrast to claims of driver error.  It exposes facts that were supposed to stay hidden, along with the railroading of an immigrant.

Update 8/14/2010 - Facebook has censored this post from "Posts by Everyone" and Twitter has censored a tweet reference from real-time results.

Update 10/23/2010 - Koua has now filed a request to join a lawsuit against Toyota. http://www.twincities.com/news/ci_16412288?source=rss

Update 10/31/2010 - Koua's attorney says Toyota is liable: