Toyota Motor Co. filed notice Tuesday that it plans to appeal the $11 million jury verdict handed down against the automaker in February for a 2006 crash that resulted in the deaths of three people and other injuries in St. Paul.
Attorneys and witnesses for Koua Fong Lee, driver of a 1996 Toyota Camry, contended that the car continued to accelerate even as he applied the brakes, as he was exiting eastbound Interstate 94 at Snelling Avenue. The Camry rear-ended an Oldsmobile Cierra stopped at a traffic light on Concordia Avenue at Snelling. Three of the occupants in the Oldsmobile died as a result of the crash.
The company was found 60 percent responsible, and Lee 40 percent.
Toyota filed its notice of appeal with the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, setting in motion a lengthy appeals process that will include briefs being filed by both sides, followed by rejoinders, then likely a hearing on the issues.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, who presided at the three-week trial, rejected Toyota's motion to overturn the verdict.
Though the jury found Lee 40 percent responsible, because the majority of the responsibility for the accident was assigned to Toyota, the jury awarded the $11 million to him and his family and to members of the family who were in the Oldsmobile.
"We sympathize with the families affected by this unfortunate accident in 2006," Toyota said in a statement Tuesday. "However, we do not believe the jury's verdict is supported by the testimony from plaintiffs' expert and other incident witnesses. In our view, the evidence demonstrated that Mr. Lee's 1996 Camry was well-designed and not the cause of this crash."