CategoryToyota Lawsuit

Toyota Settlement FAQs and Other Shocking Info re: Electronic Throttle Settlement/Criminal Charges

I came across this today while searching on the internet. Simply shocking what Toyota gets away with even when there was proof of criminal activity. Our U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder would not have filed criminal charges unless there was proof of criminal activity.

A must read.  I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am (once again).

Here’s one paragraph from the FAQs: “Both sides in the lawsuit agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation, including a potential trial, and so that the Class Members can get benefits, in exchange for releasing Toyota from liability. The settlement does not mean that Toyota broke any laws and/or did anything wrong, and the Court did not decide which side was right.”

Another Toyota Camry Suddenly Accelerates and Loses Braking Power

Joan Treppa (fighting for justice in another case) posted a blog about Koua Fong Lee’s accident/case and received a very interesting reply from a man who owned a Toyota Camry that experienced a sudden unintended acceleration and loss of brakes.

Take a look at his well written comments and his thoughts about Toyota.

6 Seconds to Try and Stop a Runaway Toyota

6 seconds………..what can you do in 6 seconds? Could you put on your shoe and tie it? Could you take out your wallet/billfold and place your drivers license in my hand? Could you open a bandaid and apply it? Could you make a phone call from where your phone is right now? I don’t think any of those things can be done in 6 seconds. You think someone could stop a car speeding out of control with a stuck open throttle and almost no brakes because all vacuum pressure depleted? I don’t think so.

Was that jury not paying attention or what? 6 seconds and 550 ft was all the time Koua Fong Lee had to try and stop that 1996 Camry – and first he had to swerve between two cars – that’s when he first hit his brakes and lost all vacuum pressure in his brake vacuum assist system. He had almost no brakes left when he came upon the Oldsmobile stopped at the red light at the stop of the exit ramp. He did however, find time to quickly move from the far left lane to the center lane, then from the center lane to the far right lane. He tried to get off the exit ramp and avoid the Oldsmobile in the far right lane, but he simply didn’t have enough time or enough distance.

When Justice Isn’t Justice: Jury Finds Toyota Guilty of Design Defect in ’96 Camry But Only 60% At Fault

When Justice Isn’t Justice:

I attended most of this trial There’s one thing this jury didn’t understand (in my opinion). Toyota lawyers had put an expert on the stand who testified that the impact of the crash could have caused the brake pedal to be pushed forward causing the brake light to come on. That’s their theory as to why the brake lights were on at the time of impact. Well there’s an obvious point here to completely put that theory to rest.

If indeed it was the impact of the crash that caused the brake lights to come on, then why didn’t the RIGHT brake bulb filament have the same severity of droop in it. Simple, it’s because the left brake bulb filament was affected and became severely deformed when Koua first hit his brakes – that was when he had to swerve between the first two cars he came upon on the exit ramp (side swiping the Solera with the left side of his car). THAT is when the left brake bulb filament became so deformed. That’s also when Koua lost all vacuum assist in his brakes – he had no vacuum assist to help him stop his car for the next collision with the Oldsmobile. That’s why there is such a different look to the right and left brake bulb filament,

Toyota’s claims vs. Expert Testimony

This week and last week I heard a lot of testimony about Koua’s ’96 Toyota Camry increasing speed vs. holding a steady speed when the throttle is stuck. Toyota claimed in court that if a vehicle has a stuck throttle, the speed limit of the vehicle should stay the same. Toyota claimed this week that Koua must have been stepping on the accelerator pedal since the speed of his car increased on the exit ramp.  Well Andrew Irwin explained that one very well.

Andrew was asked by Bob Hilliard, “does a vehicle always maintain the same speed when the throttle is stuck?” Andrew said, “no, it depends on the terrain and whether the car is going uphill, downhill, or staying on flat surface”. Well the exit ramp that Koua took has an incline like many exit ramps do, so when his car began going uphill, the acceleration increased in order to try and maintain the same speed. The last portion of the exit ramp Koua was on flattens out and that is when his car sped up because it was still trying to accelerate at a faster speed. Makes sense to me.

It’s very sad to see the media not telling the whole story. I am here to tell the whole story because it is wrong for Toyota to blame this man for the accident when it has already been proven in court where the defect lies in the Accelerator Control System. You can’t put a plastic pulley up against a metal bracket when that metal bracket is just inches from the exhaust manifold. The bracket is going to heat up at some point and since Toyota didn’t put anything in between the bracket and the pulley, the pulley eventually heats up and sticks to the metal bracket once the bracket is hot.

Heat Test Results of Accelerator Control System in 1996 Toyota Camry Revealed

Thursday, January 15, 2015 Court Events: Bob Hilliard (Koua’s lawyer) showed in court (on the monitors for all in court to see), a deposition from a Toyota employee who designed the accelerator control system for the 1996 Camry). The deposition stated heat tests were conducted on the two plastic pulleys found inside Accelerator Control System (ACS) units of the 1996 Toyota Camry. The entire ACS unit with plastic pulleys were tested by John Stilson and proven to malfunction when the ACS unit is heated to a certain temperature,

I mentioned in my last post that mechanical engineer John Stilson heated the ACS unit for 30 minutes to 165 deg F and the top plastic pulley that the accelerator cable goes into became stuck to the metal bracket and the pulley wouldn’t release the accelerator cable. It took approx. six minutes for the pulley to cool down enough to release the accelerator cable in Mr. Stilson’s first heat test. Remember, the upper plastic pulley rests against a metal bracket and that metal bracket sits just inches from the exhaust manifold which heats anywhere from 900-1000 degrees while  driving.

Toyota’s deposition shown in court stated that heat tests were conducted on these plastic pulleys for 8 days @ 248 deg F. John Stilson used a hair dryer for 30 minutes and got the upper pulley to heat up to 165 deg and the upper pulley wouldn’t function properly at that temperature. We watched a video of the heat tests and watched how long it took for the plastic pulleys to cool down and release the accelerator cable.

On cross examination, one of Toyota’s lawyers asked John Stilson, “Did you even think of taking this 1996 Camry that you have in your possession, hook up some thermocouples inside the ACS unit, drive the car around for thirty minutes and check what temperature the inside of the ACS unit actually heats up to in real life situation?” (I’m paraphrasing). John Stilson’s reply: “No, because I wanted to follow Toyota’s specification”. It is listed in Toyota’s service manual that if you want to test for malfunction due to heat, use a hair dryer. I would say Stilson’s tests were conducted properly and the results are credible.

1996 Toyota Camry Defect Design Revealed in U.S. Federal Court Today 1-14-15

Court events from January 14, 2015 Toyota Lawsuit

Two wonderful things to post about. 1) The design defect in some ’96 Camry throttle body units (accelerator control system) was proven in court today. The accelerator control system (ACS) on the 1996 Camry has two pulleys in it that control the accelerator cable (which is attached to the gas pedal). Well in Koua Fong Lee’s ’96 Camry (and some other ’96 Camrys) those two pulleys are made of plastic. The side of the upper plastic pulley butts up against a metal bracket and that metal bracket sits just inches from the engine. When that throttle body and metal plate heat up, the upper plastic pulley can bind up and won’t release the accelerator cable.  It gets stuck to the metal bracket (at times).

When Koua’s lawyer asked the expert (John Stilson) what he used to heat up the throttle body, John said he used a hair dryer. Many in the courtroom were surprised. Koua’s lawyer asked Mr. Stilson why he used a hair dryer and Mr. Stilson said, “because that’s what is listed in the 1996 Toyota Camry Service Manual to test for malfunction due to heat”. It took Mr. Stilson only 30 mins to heat the throttle body to 165 deg F and he conducted five tests (four shown on video in court) to record how that heat affected the upper plastic pulley and caused it bind up and stick to the metal bracket. It took between 5 and 7 minutes for the upper pulley to cool down and release the accelerator cable.

John Stilson designed a different accelerator system completely eliminating the need for a throttle body, to show how easy it is to design the accelerator/throttle system which won’t cause the accelerator cable to stick.

The other wonderful testimony today was by Andrew Irwin who specializes in reconstruction of accidents. Since the accident in June, 2006, Toyota and other experts have claimed that Koua’s brakes were in good working condition. But today Koua’s lawyer asked Andrew if he did any tests to check the brake vacuum assist system in Koua’s car. With no vacuum pressure in brakes, you have what’s called “hard brakes”. When the inspectors checked Koua’s vacuum assist system, they noted there was no vacuum pressure in the system. Mr. Irwin said one of the inspectors/experts pumped in 25 inches of vacuum pressure into Koua’s brake vacuum assist system and it filled the system. After stepping on the brake pedal one time, they lost 40% of the vacuum pressure. After releasing the brake and stepping on the brake one more time, they lost all vacuum pressure in Koua’s brakes. This explains why Koua had lost his brakes after stepping on them twice when he swerved between the first two cars he came upon on the exit ramp – that’s when he lost all vacuum pressure in his brakes. By the time he came upon the Oldsmobile stopped at the red light ahead, there was no vacuum pressure left in his brake system. Keep in mind he had only 550 feet (5.1 seconds) to react when he realized his brakes were not working properly.

Never once since Koua’s accident in 2006 has Toyota been able to prove that Koua did NOT step on the brakes. Put aside trying to prove that he DID step on the brakes. They can not prove that he didn’t. If they could prove that, they would have by now. There’s no way Koua’s brake vacuum assist system would have been depleted of vacuum pressure if he had not stepped on his brakes.

Toyota Lawsuit for 1996 Camry – Day 3 of Testimony in Federal Court

Today Andrew Irwin took the stand, he reconstructs accidents and one of the software programs he uses in determining some of his results is called ED-SMAC. He showed a blown up picture of Koua Fong Lee’s left rear brake light bulb, specifically focusing on the filament. He said the filament reached 2000 degrees in the breake bulb from Koua’s  car and due to the shape of the filament, he is 100% certain that Koua was stepping on the brakes at the time of impact. Lawyer asked Andrew if there was anything else that could possibly cause this filament to act and look how it does and Andrew responded, “No”.  Toyota’s defense for this case has always been and still is that Koua never stepped on the brake and that he accidentally stepped on the gas instead.

The main defense attorney on this case is Bob Hilliard. He was one of the attorneys handling the BP oil spill in southern United States and he is also involved in the GM lawsuit. In his opening statement during this particular lawsuit which is being held before The Honorable Judge Ann Montgomery in Minneapolis Federal Court, Bob showed a hugely blown up image of a  test method/spec that Toyota uses when testing their Accelerator Control System (ACS) on the 1996 Camrys before determining if they are safe and reliable enough to release for sale. Turns out, the pulleys in all the ACS units that Toyota tested are metal pulleys. Well Koua’s ACS unit does not contain metal pulleys, they are plastic. These pulleys control the accelerator cable and this ACS unit sits just inches from the engine and the ACS unit is not fully encapsulated. The cover to the ACS unit goes around and on top of the unit, but the bottom is not covered at all. There is also no scheduled or required or suggested maintenance in any of Toyota’s manuals for these ACS units. Since this information was made during an opening statement, it has not been proven just yet. Testimony on that is coming Tuesday.

Will post a blog after court on Tuesday.

Toyota Lawsuit Begins on January 7, 2015 in Minneapolis

First time Toyota is being sued for the mechanical throttle in their 1996 Camry. American Family Insurance is one of the parties suing. Pre trial motions are being heard on January 6th before The Honorable Judge Ann Montgomery at the Minneapolis Federal Courthouse. Jury selection will begin on January 7th and the trial is expected to start on January 8th.

It is not right that a consumer is blamed for a defective design or part. Let’s not forget that 44 people came forward who signed affidavits stating they experienced the same sudden unintended acceleration with complete loss of brakes after Koua Fong Lee was sentenced to eight years in prison. I heard eleven of their testimonies myself. If a baby died due to a defective crib, would the parents be blamed? or the manufacturer of the crib? Why does Toyota still blame the driver/s?

A floor mat issue? Really?  Who would design a floor mat that would cause such an event anyway.

Our own Attorney General filed CRIMINAL charges against Toyota, and instead of prosecuting, agreed to a $1.2 billion dollar settlement. That means there was proof of criminal activity by Toyota.

Stay tuned for details on the upcoming Toyota lawsuit. I will be attending it.

Toyota Lawsuit in Minneapolis Moved to January, 2015

The lawsuit against Toyota for the mechanical throttle in the ’95 and ’96 Camry that was due to begin today has been moved to January, 2015. Pretrial motions will be heard Monday, November 10th before The Honorable Judge Ann Montgomery at the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis. I’m sad for those who thought they could end this year by working on putting this horrific accident behind them.

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