August 15, 2010, - 9:21 pm


By Debbie Schlussel

This is from a week ago, but I’m only just getting to it. Still, it’s so touching and important that I couldn’t let more time pass before posting it. Koua Fong Lee spent three years of his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit and declined the prosecutors’ offers to admit to the crime and go free on probation. The offer was shockingly stingy, and even disappointed the victims’ family. A religious Christian, Fong is far more charitable than I’d be if this happened to me. While I’m no fan of the litigation explosion, I’d sue the heck out of Toyota for this if I were him. Three years away from his young children that he can never replace. Now, they will have to meet and get to know their father all over again. But he definitely taught them the ultimate lesson about not taking blame for something for which you were not at fault. You gotta watch this.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses

If he was going 70 to 90 mph on a residential street, whether the brakes worked when he tried to slow or not is kind of besides the point, isn’t it? When we had the “sudden accelaration” cases in the mid-1980’s, a study found that in all cases, the drivers were pressing the gas, not the brake pedals. In ever case, the cars showed no problems with either system after the crashes. It was never decided that the drivers lied, only that they were simply wrong.

I don’t think it’s a coicidence that Toyota, the best selling car in the US was tagerted by the governemnt as a way to recoup its “investment” in GM and Chrysler.

BoKnows on August 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I don’t buy it. The “government” isn’t behind it, though: trial attorneys are. Our government lifting tariffs is the #1 reason imports like Toyota have gained such a stranglehold.

No, the problem with Hmong’s story is from an engineering and physics standpoint. It would take quite a while for a 4 cylinder, 16 year-old Camry to get to 70 MPH and the brake would definitely have slowed it down considerably. Anyone who’s stomped on the brake and gas of any car at the same time knows which one wins.

I would bet dollars to donuts that what happened is that a can or bottle rolled under the brake pedal, rendering it unable to be depressed. The guy is lying and the victims’ families are all too happy for a retrial to get another shot at a big settlement from Toyota. Trail lawyers will be the death of the USA.

Quorum on August 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm

God bless the innocent souls in this life who are thrown into Kafka-esque nightmares.

Skunky on August 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I believe this guy’s story. He wasn’t intoxicated and he was with his family. What motive would give someone to drive recklessly with your kids in your car? I think Toyota owes a lot of families a lot of money around the country. I don’t think Toyota has been negligent in their engineering over the years. Their cover-up may be negligent.

Yes that man stood up for his principles knowing it would cost him missing his loved ones. That is strength I couldn’t ever muster. I know I would rationalize that life is too short missing your loved ones if you know you weren’t guilty. Also have to feel terrible for the other family.

CaliforniaScreaming on August 15, 2010 at 11:48 pm

He won’t purse against Toyota, because it would prove that Camry is too old to be a victim of plastic parts.
That case is not justice, but political correctness.
It was the same political correctness like with Elias Abuelazam, and with O.J. Simpson, and with murder of Marine srg. Jan Pawel Pietrzak.

gr77 on August 16, 2010 at 4:25 am

G-d bless the Lee family and the family of the victims. Baruch dayan ha Emet. Blessed be the Righteous Judge.

mk750 on August 16, 2010 at 4:27 am


Bob Cash on August 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

It is a moving story and it is great that the family is Christian, but there are things that seem suspicious: They don’t mention that it was a problem with sudden acceleration, so why was the father going 70-90 miles per hour on what looks like would be a 40-50 street. Regardless of whether the brake didn’t work, that is reckless driving.

Also, the mainstream media wouldn’t be pushing this story if it weren’t so into bashing Toyota, which is a great and successful corporation. I’ve had a Toyota Camry since 2003, and it is a perfect car. I have had no problems with it at all. I won’t buy American cars because I remember all the problems my family had when I was growing up with American cars.

JM on August 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

God or no god, I’d be forgiving, too.

I’d still like to crucify and cremate Toyota, though.

The "Reverend" Jacques on August 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm

We Americans have an automobile-based culture. We grow up in cars then drive our own as young teenagers. A lot of other cultures do not share this. As a result, the insurance industry can absolutely prove this difference in automotive culture with conclusive statistical facts. They just won’t do it for fear of being labeled racists. It is OK if they say Asians are superior when it comes to math skills, but you can’t say they are lousy drivers. When I was a youngster at the police academy, there was a ‘D.W.O.’ radio code. It utilized the word ‘oriental’ which by today’s standards, is no longer used. I am happy this guy is home.

#1 Vato on August 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

(Recently in the news in Canada, there has been a string of convictions which have been overturned. The wrongful convictions were due to a forensic pathologist teaming up with prosecutors so as to win cases. One fellow, Mullins-Johnson, spent twelve years in jail (innocent, but found guilty of killing his niece, all based on the flawed “evidence” of the forensic pathologist). What I found even more hideous was the fate of others (mothers who had a child die of SIDs, but accused of murder) who not only were charged and convicted on false evidence, but “were forced to put surviving children up for adoption or into foster care.” And the compensation? A joke. “A child of the accused who was removed from his or her home can claim up to $25,000.”)

J.S. on August 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm

This man was driving home from church with his pregant wife and child. Even the victim’s family didn’t believe this man intentionally hurt anyone — yet, the prosecutor’s office went after him as if he meant to kill someone charging him with criminal vehicular homicide and sentencing him to eight years in prison — not right!

MOMinMINNESOTA on August 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

The government has not been able to duplicate accelerator problems. It appears if any engineering was bad it was the set up of the pedals, too close together or too similar in feel. Many people think they are breaking when they are actually pushing the other pedal. Personally, I have had 3 Toyotas and will continue to buy them.

llano on August 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I think he still bears some criminal and civil liability for this. What, his shifter stopped working too? He couldn’t just go into neutral and let the car coast? Or how about shutting off the ignition? Or how about, if he was really speeding out of control at 70 MPH, steering clear of a freaking car full of people in front of him? Why not aim for a ditch or tree? Why sentence the hapless people in front of you to death?

I have zero sympathy for this guy and I think he should be back in jail.

David on August 17, 2010 at 11:46 am

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field