Saturday, January 10, 2015

Emotional testimony in case against Toyota

Emotional testimony in case against Toyota


Adrienne Broaddus, KARE 10:29 p.m. EST January 9, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS - A woman who survived a crash that killed her father and brother took the stand Friday in a lawsuit against Toyota.

Jassmine Adams was 12 when she was involved in that crash on June 10, 2006. Her cousin, critically injured in the crash, died the following year.

Adams, now 21 years old, is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Toyota that says a malfunctioning Toyota caused that St. Paul crash that killed three people eight years ago.

Koua Fong Lee was behind the wheel and spent two and a half years in prison before he was released following a surge in reports of sudden acceleration accidents. He always insisted the car was at fault.

Adams wept Friday morning as she told jurors in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis about her experience. She said the crash woke her from a nap and that she was trapped and her leg was bent.

She said her cousin, who later died, was bleeding from the head. Her father, Javis Adams Sr., and younger brother, Javis Adams Jr., were both dead.

"Daddy get up," Adams tearfully said. "J.J. get up. They wouldn't respond."

"I was able to see my bone. If I pushed it, ( the bone ) would've come through my skin," she said.
Attorneys said a Minnesota State Trooper witnessed the crash and approached the Oldsmobile in which Adams was trapped.

She asked, "Am I going die?"

Adams was stuck inside the vehicle about 20 minutes. She still remembers the sound of the tools first-responders used to free her from the vehicle.

"It was like he was drilling, trying to get it open," Adams said.

Following Adams' testimony, two other people testified saying they had similar acceleration problems as Lee.

Michael Frazier, who currently works in the security and operations division with the Boston Red Sox, said that his 1996 Toyota Camry accelerated multiple times in 2006. He described one incident while driving through the "tunnels" in Boston.

A Black Hawk Pilot with the Army National Guard, Ronald Neumeister, said he experienced uncontrolled acceleration problems with his 1996 Camry in 2009. Neumeister, currently on tour in Kuwait, was allowed to return to Minnesota in order to testify for this trial.

"I would feel guilty for the rest of my life if I hadn't stood up and contacted his attorney and said there was an issue with the vehicle." Neumeister said. "I saw Mr. lee's story when I returned from Afghanistan in 2010. I saw his lawyer on TV. And I decided to do the right thing. I experienced the same thing in my car. Being a good citizen, I decided I needed to speak up because I knew an innocent man was in prison."

Lee is among several plaintiffs seeking damages from Toyota over the crash. He has always maintained that he pumped his brakes but the car wouldn't stop.

Toyota says Lee's car wasn't defective and he hit the gas instead of the brake. The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, resumes Monday. Next week Lee is expected to continue his testimony.

The plaintiff's attorneys will also call on two expert witnesses.