Thursday, January 15, 2015

Accelerator testimony heats up Toyota trial

Accelerator testimony heats up Toyota trial

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 14, 2015 - 9:26 PM
As attorneys clashed, Judge Ann Montgomery broke in to halt debate, rephrase questions.
Tensions were high in federal court in Minneapolis on Wednesday in the high-stakes legal battle that pits the Toyota Motor Corp. against the driver of a 1996 Camry and the families whose lives were forever changed by an automobile crash that left three people dead.
Toyota’s lead attorney, David Graves, spent much of the afternoon on his feet during the second week of trial, repeatedly objecting to testimony about the Camry’s accelerator that might lead the eight-man, six-woman jury to conclude that Toyota was at fault.
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery several times broke in to halt the debate and rephrase the questions posed to two experts.
The sharp divide quickly came to a head during the close of testimony by Andrew Irwin, an accident reconstructionist hired by attorneys for Koua Fong Lee, the driver who spent 2½ years in prison for criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the 2006 accident.
Lee, 37, has maintained that his Camry had inexplicably accelerated while he tried unsuccessfully to apply the brakes, and crashed into an Oldsmobile after exiting eastbound Interstate 94 at Snelling Avenue. A new attorney retained by Lee produced witnesses in 2010 who said their 1996 Camrys also experienced sudden accelerations.
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner at that time opted against a second trial and instead allowed Lee to go free.
Irwin was on the stand again Wednesday when Lee’s attorney, Bob Hilliard, asked him for his opinion about a butterfly valve in a throttle mechanism that the experts hired by Ramsey County found partly open when they examined the wrecked Camry four years after the crash.
The valve is connected to the accelerator and could be a signal that the accelerator was not working properly, Hilliard maintains.
Hilliard asked: Did Irwin know the accelerator mechanism was stuck partly open?
Graves objected.
There were more questions about the “stuck” accelerator and more objections by Graves, who noted that the totaled Camry had been sitting outside uncovered in a police lot for four years before it was examined by Irwin.
Mr. Albany Rose.....
...the Dilly, Dally, Delay, Stall & Bill 'Em King.... going to have TOYOTA examine the LEMON LADY'S TOYOTA after it has sat for how many years? and after documenting TAMPERING.....
The judge then turned to the jury.
“The jury is going to have to decide whether it was stuck,” she told them.
Graves also objected repeatedly during the testimony of John Stilson, an Illinois automotive and safety consultant who criticized Toyota’s accelerator design for the 1996 Camry.
“It is my opinion it was designed and manufactured defectively,” he stated.
Stilson said that heat from the Camry engine caused two plastic pulleys to “bind” and become stuck, leading the car to accelerate on its own.
“The cause of the accident was the defect of the accelerator system,” Stilson testified.

Stilson showed jurors an accelerator system he redesigned himself that he said would have prevented the pulleys from binding.
Toyota has argued that the pulleys could withstand the engine heat.
The company has argued that Lee, who had little experience driving the Camry, caused the accident himself by mistakenly hitting the gas pedal when he meant to apply the brakes.
It's interesting, since 2006 Toyota has never proven that Koua was NOT stepping on the brakes. Let's put aside proving that he was for a minute. They'll never be able to prove he WASN'T. If they could prove that, the would have by now.

All this time 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 vacuum pressure system in Koua's car. With no vacuum pressure in brakes, you have no brakes. Andrew said him and 4 other inspectors pumped in 25 inches of vacuum pressure into Koua's brake vacuum system and it filled the system. After stepping on the brakes 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 came off the exit ramp, he had 2 cars to swerve between before reaching the intersection, and that's when he used up all his vacuum pressure. No brakes were available to him when he came upon the Oldsmobile stopped at the red light ahead. Keep in mind he had only 550 feet (5.1 seconds) to react when he realized he had no brakes. by Trudy Baltazar 1-14-15

 They already proved that the 60-70 mph guess is wrong. They extracted data from 3 speed sensors in the area and Andrew Irwin used ED-SMAC software to determine the speeds. When an accelerator cable is stuck due to the upper pulley in the ACS unit not releasing it (from heat exposure to pulley), your car accelerates out of control. They also talked about how the acceleration changes due to the road, when you're going up a hill and then you reach flat surface, the car accelerates more even though the throttle is stuck in the same position. You can see my post above to read what happened to Koua's brakes. Many test results were shown in court today.