Toyota was found guilty of the design defect found in the 1996 Camry accelerator control system. They were found to be 60% at fault for the accident involving the ’96 Camry driven by Koua Fong Lee. I do not agree with that 60/40 decision and I would love to hear from one of the jurors what their explanation is for how they came up with that number. If there was no defect, there would be no accident.
Toyota has filed papers asking the judge to overturn the verdict.
A link to the article is below and my comments on the article are as follows:
Stilson explained why he rotated that tab – it was because the tab on the CC lever was sticking to the pulley and he said it wasn’t supposed to do that. He showed the jury and the court room how rotating the tab on the cruise control lever did not at all affect any function of the CC or accelerator and he demonstrated that. Re the 3 other drivers who testified that the exact same thing happened in their 1996 Camry – let’s see, one was flown here from Iraq during his 9 month tour as a pilot – he flies a black hawk and also flies for Sun Country Airlines. He’s double trained on how to handle engine failures and engine problems. His ’96 Camry was manufactured at the same factory as Mr. Lee’s, in fact made on the same production line – made within minutes of Koua’s Camry. This pilot testified he drove home one day going 45 mph without ever once having to step on the gas – he just kept shutting off his car to keep it from exceeding 45 mph, and he said every time he would restart the car, the RPMs spiked up to 5000 immediately – with both feet on the floor. That is a stuck throttle. The other 2 who testified that the same exact thing happened to their ’96 Camry – one was a retired air force pilot who now volunteers for a VA hosp, one a former VP of Province College. One of them could only get their ’96 Camry to slow down to 95 mph and that was with both feet on the brake pedal. You can’t stop a car with ABS while the throttle is stuck open. It doesn’t happen.
If Toyota really wanted to prove that the upper plastic pulley isn’t sticking against the metal bracket it’s attached to, then they should have conducted some tests of their own. I saw no test results from them after the pulleys had been installed. The only test results shown in the court room on behalf of Toyota was a tensile strength test of the nylon resin material – well you don’t use a tensile strength test when you’re trying to figure out if a plastic pulley can withstand a certain amount of heat while it’s resting against a metal plate.
I heard testimonies from 11 others during Mr. Lee’s Evidentiary Hearing in 2010 when he was freed and fully exonerated. All 11 said the exact same thing, the Camry took off on it’s own and they could not get it to stop by only using the brakes. You can’t build up vacuum pressure when your throttle is stuck open if you have ABS brakes. Who does Toyota think the jury and judge should believe? The 3 drivers who testified at the recent liability lawsuit (who had nothing to gain by testifying and were not paid one red cent to testify?) or the people Toyota paid millions to for testifying. Bob Hilliard exposed during this liability lawsuit that Exponent was paid $42 million + from Toyota alone. In 2009 and again in 2011 – $31 million in payments from Toyota to Exponent. Bob also pointed out Exponent was the company who tested asbestos in brakes and claimed it was safe, Exponent tested a contaminant in drinking water and said it was safe (it was proven later to cause cancer), and Exponent did the Ford roof crush test and said it passed when later was found not to be safe. Seems like Exponent will say whatever their client wants them to say.
“Expert” Lee Carr testified for Toyota – who showed a video of a 60 yr old woman who apparently was driving while they were video taping her. It was a split screen and you could see her feet in one corner, her hands on the steering wheel in another corner, and the road ahead through the windshield in another section of the video. Lee Carr said this woman had been “driving along” their course when they intentionally opened up her throttle to video tape her reaction. Well she started stepping on the gas pedal. BUT, Bob Hilliard played that video back during his closing argument and had the courtroom watch the video again. Funny thing is the odometer read only 1 mph on her vehicle – was she really driving? Lee Carr said this woman swerved in a zig zag motion in and out of some cones but during the reply in Bob’s closing statement, we saw that her hands never moved the steering wheel at all – and we saw no cones on the course. Hmmmm Bob pointed out that Lee Carr and his partner Karl Stopchinski were paid $1.4 million for this case. I’d say they were a little overpaid. You know how much Bob Hilliard paid for his 2 independent engineers to conduct their tests? less than $65,000. I think I’ll take the word of those who testified who had nothing to gain by doing so.
Here’s the link to the article