As feds slam Toyota over hiding sticky pedal, let’s remember Koua Fong Lee

Koua Fong Lee embraces his wife outside of the Ramsey County jail in August 2010, moments after learning that prosecutors would not seek a new case against  him. Lee had spent more than three years in jail after he was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide after a 2006 crash he argued was triggered by his Toyota’s rapid acceleration. Tom Weber/MPR News

It’s easy to be angry reading through today’s U.S. Justice Department’s takedown of Toyota detailing the car company’s reprehensible behavior hiding safety flaws in some of its models that triggered unintended acceleration and, ultimately, led to deaths.

It’s just hard to know where to start.

As part of a “deferred prosecution agreement” with the Justice Department, Toyota admitted “that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles, each of which caused a type of unintended acceleration,” the feds said. Toyota will pay a $1.2 billion financial penalty, “the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company.”

Toyota’s behavior was “shameful” and it “protected its brand ahead of its own customers,” U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said.

That might bring some comfort to Koua Fong Lee, the St. Paul man convicted of criminal vehicular homicide for a 2006 crash that killed three people. Lee had maintained that he tried to brake as he got off Interstate 94, but that his 1996 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated, ramming into stopped cars.

A jury didn’t buy it, sentencing him in 2008 to eight years.

He was released from prison in 2010 after a judge ordered a new trial and prosecutors declined to prosecute him again as reports grew of Toyota unintended acceleration crashes, including a widely publicized 2009 crash in San Diego, Calif., that killed a family of four.

As MPR News reported, “not even Lee’s own attorney went along with his story that he had tried to brake until this year, when millions of Toyotas were recalled because of sudden acceleration problems.”

Part of the problem back then was that Lee’s Camry wasn’t part of  the recall, suggesting that he, not his car, was still to blame for the crash.

Today’s documents, however, make it clear the company was doing all it could to minimize recalls and mislead regulators even as its engineers recognized problems with sticky gas pedals and problem floor mats.

We trusted that Toyota’s recalls were honest and complete. They weren’t.

Koua Fong Lee spent more than two years in prison for the crash that killed Carolyn Trice’s two grandchildren and her son. After Lee was freed, she had the humanity and character to say, “It’s still not going to bring back my loss, but I’m glad the innocent got released.”

Toyota is paying for its negligence today with cash. 

  • Vincent Louis Marino

    Toyota should NOT be allowed to simply pay the money!? Someone – or several someones – should be made to switch places with Lee and go to prison for as long as he was in there! They should be forced to pay him millions in punitive damage too! My GOD what the hell is going on out there. He’ was coming home from Church (for Christ’s sake!) with his kids in car seats showing otherwise NO motive or unreasonable behavior indicative of guilt yet they go after him anyway because THE FRAME FITS? Directly unrelated but almost equal in its incredulity, you’ve got the NYC district attorney charging a mentally ill homeless man with attempted murder because 2 of NYC’s finest shot at him – and missed – striking 2 pedestrians while he was in the throws of a psychotic break (google it someone got the whole thing on his cell and I’ve seen it!) on 42nd St near the Port Authority. This DA has the grand-man-lady-balls to say “his behavior caused the SITUATION that led to their injuries. Our judicial system, cops, prosecutors the whole damned lot of them are simply out of control! Man, it’s all nuts out there…

  • http://www.askparris.blogspot.com/ Parris Boyd

    Excellent article, Paul. PLEASE investigate why Koua gave up his right to seek punitive damages in exchange for joining the lawsuit filed by other victims of the crash. I’ve been blogging about Recall King Toyota for quite some time, and have published more than one post about Koua’s case. My blog is titled “Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU…” and my 3/19/14 post, “Jailed Toyota driver deserves punitive damages” addresses the issue. http://uc2.blogspot.com/2014/03/jailed-toyota-driver-deserves-punitive.html

    • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

      This idiot deserves to be in jail. The fact that he screwed up and tried to blame the car is the real crime. The fact that the 1996 Camry had nothing to do with the unintended acceleration witch hunt shows that you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about and nobody’s going to read your fear-mongering garbage blog. Don’t forget the fact that no death or injury has been tied to “sticky” gas pedals. Toyota just paid a huge amount of money for driver error.

      • Betsy Benjaminson

        disqus…
        Unintended acceleration can happen in mechanical throttle cars, too, and it happened to me once in an old VW bug. It does not all have to be caused by electronics. One of the items Toyota covered up was the improperly designed floor pan in some of their models. I have a doc in which Toyota’s R&D chief admits that their failsafe engineers did not take into account instances where the pedal is stuck open.
        Countless experts have recognized with some shock that Toyota’s overall engineering was and is substandard. Once that fact is clear, it becomes more logical to blame the car for these kinds of events than the driver.

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          No, it doesn’t. Those “experts” you cite are frauds payed for by shyster attorneys trying to sue for money. I’ll trust the engineers way before the lawyers. The electronics have nothing to do with it. Driver error is the cause as has been repeatedly proven by multiple independent engineering organizations. The same thing happened with Audi in the 80′s. Funny how you don’t hear claims of unintended acceleration once the settlement money starts flowing…

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            Disqus Qx, what’s your name? I think you are a Toyota troll, but let’s set that aside for now. Can we get down to details? Can you agree not to make broad generalizations that
            attempt to discredit Toyota critics as motivated by financial interests? These statements are inherently illogical when Toyota proponents are certainly motivated by financial
            interests. Now, to be specific, among the experts who have found the engineering processes to be substandard are, first of all, Toyota’s own R&D chief (now retired from that position),Mr. Masatami Takimoto, who wrote quite specifically in several documents that are on my computer here now, that Toyota allowed incompletely developed cars onto
            the market. In other words, the way these cars were engineered was below HIS OWN standards for safety and
            quality. Second, among those I had in mind when I wrote “experts,” there is one expert who has worked for plaintiffs attorneys, his name is Michael Barr, and he said the engineering processes are substandard. His opinion is authoritative and neutral, as shown by the widespread respect for his views among his peers, as he is shortly going to be giving the keynote speech at the top conference of embedded systems engineers, sponsored by EE Times. Toyota had no defense against him in court, and did not rebut him. Other experts who have given their opinions on Toyota’s engineering practices include two university professors, one retired aircraft safety systems engineer, and five independent world-class engineers in various fields, by and large people who do not work for plaintiffs counsel.

            Disqus Qx, can you prove your claims “the
            electronics have nothing to do with it.” and “Driver
            error is the cause as has been repeatedly proven by multiple independent engineering organizations.” I challenge you to prove these claims are actually true. I think they are completely false.

            Your statement “the same thing happened with the Audi” also lacks proof. Consumers were angry then, and consumers are angry now, and scared of out-of-control cars. I suppose I concede your point if that is what you meant.

            Your statement “Funny how you don’t hear claims of
            unintended acceleration once the settlement money starts flowing…” is absurd in the extreme, in that you must know as well as the rest of us know that all settlements require silence by plaintiffs.

            As for the WSJ article you cited as being more factual, if you would look at the upper left corner, you will see that this
            article is clearly noted as “opinion.” Delving into it a little further, you will see that the author works for a think tank called Cato Institute, where his bio proudly proclaims him thus: The Washington Post has dubbed him the “intellectual guru of tort reform.” According to the Washington Post also, “Cato is one of the largest think tanks in Washington, with a $39 million budget in 2011, according to its tax form. It espouses an ideology of limited government and free-market economics. The Koch brothers, owners of the privately-held energy company Koch Industries…are founders.” So, Disqus Qx, talk about agendas! Certainly there is some agenda in the WSJ opinion piece that you mislabel. The Cato Institute has 64 “Policy Scholars.” Among them there is not a single face of color. One of their blogs is “Overlawyered.” How neutral are they? How representative are they of the interests of ordinary US citizens? It seems to me that the hegemony they represent is nicely cloaked in a veil of libertarianism. Can you agree? It is not objective. If I misread you, please explain your position.

            Have a nice day. Betsy

          • Charlene Blake

            Excellently stated, Betsy! Thank you for providing the additional information. Toyota owners can see that you have done your homework.

            Also, I really appreciate all that you have done to expose the truth in the Toyota SUA matter. Michael Barr’s findings of bugs in the Toyota ETCS are extremely important right now. These findings were critical in the Oklahoma court case that Toyota LOST. The findings continue to be important because this cause of Toyota SUA isn’t even addressed in Toyota’s recent $1.2 BILLION settlement with the DOJ.

            The issue of Toyota sudden unintended acceleration is far from over. The NHTSA will now need to take into consideration Michael Barr’s findings as they apply to reported cases of Toyota vehicle SUA. This may well be the tip of the iceberg as opposed to Toyota’s idea of putting the SUA issue behind it.

          • Charlene Blake

            Audi got away with pointing the finger at the vehicle owners. The sudden acceleration was very real for theses owners as well. I had the pleasure of speaking to one of the two women who began a consumer effort to get Audi to do something to correct the situation. The events of SUA were frightening…just the same as for the Toyota owners who continue to come forward. I suppose Toyota might believe it should get away with turning a blind eye as well. The scope of the Toyota SUA is apparently much broader than the Audi SUA was.

            After all, as you cite, Betsy, the internal documents at Toyota reveal genuine concern about a potential electronic issue. Now that Michael Barr has the results of his testing, wouldn’t it be prudent of Toyota to immediately do something about it? Or, will Toyota take its chances and hope for no repeat of the horrific SUA Lexus loaner accident that killed a whole family?

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            Disqus Qx, what’s your name? Can we get down to details? Can you agree not to make broad generalizations that attempt to discredit Toyota critics as motivated by financial interests? These statements are inherently illogical when Toyota proponents are certainly motivated by financial interests. Now, to be specific, among the experts who have found the engineering processes to be substandard are, first of all, Toyota’s own R&D chief says he knows that the cars went onto the market in an incompletely developed state. So he did not like how they were engineered. He is the world’s top expert on Toyota engineering practices, I would presume. Second, among those I had in mind when I wrote “experts,” there is one expert who has worked for plaintiffs attorneys, his name is Michael Barr, and he said the engineering processes are substandard. His opinion is authoritative and neutral, as shown by the widespread respect for his views among his peers, as he is shortly going to be giving the keynote speech at the top conference of embedded systems engineers, sponsored by EE Times. Toyota had no defense against him in court, and did not rebut him. Other experts who have given their opinions on Toyota’s engineering practices include two university professors, one retired aircraft safety systems engineer, and five independent world-class engineers in various fields, by and large people who do not work for plaintiffs counsel.
            Disqus Qx, can you prove your claims “the
            electronics have nothing to do with it.” and “Driver
            error is the cause as has been repeatedly proven by multiple independent engineering organizations.” I challenge you to prove these claims are actually true. I think they are completely false.
            Your statement “the same thing happened with the Audi” also lacks proof. Consumers were angry then, and consumers are angry now, and scared of out-of-control cars. I suppose I concede your point if that is what you meant.
            Your statement “Funny how you don’t hear claims of
            unintended acceleration once the settlement money starts flowing…” is absurd in the extreme, in that you must know as well as the rest of us know that all settlements require silence by plaintiffs.
            As for the WSJ article you cited as being more factual, if you would look at the upper left corner, you will see that this article is clearly marked “Opinion.” Delving into it a little further, you will see that the author works for a think tank called Cato Institute, where his bio proudly proclaims that the Washington Post has dubbed him the “intellectual guru of tort reform.” With its $39 million budget, the Cato Institute provides the public with a blog called “Overlawyered,” among other things. It seems to me that the hegemony they represent is nicely cloaked in a veil of libertarianism. This article you say offers “actual facts” seems rather more likely an highly political opinion piece. If I misread you, please explain your position.
            Have a nice day. Betsy.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            I can agree to that when you agree to not make broad generalizations that attempt to discredit actual facts from NHTSA, NASA, NAS, and others. If you had actually read the linked article, you’d know that within it were actual facts from engineering reports. But since it doesn’t align with your misguided belief, you probably ignore things like science.
            Have a nice day.

      • Charlene Blake

        Pardon me, but I’m unclear on what you are trying to tell us. You mentioned Parris Boyd’s blog and indicated that no one was going to read it. To the contrary, the Mr. Boyd’s blog has been well-received by readers already. His blog gives valid links to articles which do cite the facts that are lacking in your attacking post. I know when I look to blogs, I am seeking credible information. I found just that on his “Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU” blog. It’s commendable that the blog author is transparent and doesn’t hide behind anonymous postings. I’d encourage you to read the blog carefully. I’ve experienced the censorship he mentions in his blog in my past Toyota engine oil sludge consumer efforts. Seems anonymous entities are more than happy to defame and incite in an effort to stop vocal consumers from speaking out. Hopefully, you aren’t one of them;)

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          I won’t read fear-mongering crap. If you choose to believe in Big-Foot, the Lochness Monster, Parris’s garbage, unintended acceleration in Toyota’s, and other things that don’t exist, that’s your problem. The engineers have put this myth to bed long ago. For actual facts read this:

          http://opinion.financialpost.com/2014/03/24/terence-corcoran-intended-media-acceleration-and-the-assault-on-toyota/

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          THERE IS NO DEFECT IN THESE CARS. Does that clear it up for you? I don’t read fear-mongering, biased garbage, so I won’t be reading Parris’s little blog. If you choose to believe in Big-Foot, the Lochness Monster, UFOs, unintended acceleration in Toyotas, and other things that don’t exist, that’s your problem. I’ll trust the engineers that use actual science and facts.
          This article sums it up nicely:
          http://opinion.financialpost.com/2014/03/24/terence-corcoran-intended-media-acceleration-and-the-assault-on-toyota/

        • Betsy Benjaminson

          Disqus Qx, what’s your name?
          Can we get down to details? Can you agree not to make broad generalizations that
          attempt to discredit Toyota critics as motivated by financial interests? These statements are inherently illogical when Toyota proponents are certainly motivated by financial
          interests. Now, to be specific, among the experts who have found the engineering processes to be substandard are, first of all, Toyota’s own R&D chief (now retired from that position),Mr. Masatami Takimoto, who wrote quite specifically in several documents that are on my computer here now, that Toyota allowed incompletely developed cars onto
          the market. In other words, the way these cars were engineered was below HIS OWN standards for safety and
          quality. Second, among those I had in mind when I wrote “experts,” there is one expert who has worked for plaintiffs attorneys, his name is Michael Barr, and he said the engineering processes are substandard. His opinion is authoritative and neutral, as shown by the widespread respect for his views among his peers, as he is shortly going to be giving the keynote speech at the top conference of embedded systems engineers, sponsored by EE Times. Toyota had no defense against him in court, and did not rebut him. Other experts who have given their opinions on Toyota’s engineering practices include two university professors, one retired aircraft safety systems engineer, and five independent world-class engineers in various fields, by and large people who do not work for plaintiffs counsel.
          Disqus Qx, can you prove your claims “the
          electronics have nothing to do with it.” and “Driver
          error is the cause as has been repeatedly proven by multiple independent engineering organizations.” I challenge you to prove these claims are actually true. I think they are completely false.
          Your statement “the same thing happened with the Audi” also lacks proof. Consumers were angry then, and consumers are angry now, and scared of out-of-control cars. I suppose I concede your point if that is what you meant.
          Your statement “Funny how you don’t hear claims of
          unintended acceleration once the settlement money starts flowing…” is absurd in the extreme, in that you must know as well as the rest of us know that all settlements require silence by plaintiffs.
          As for the WSJ article you cited as being more factual, if you would look at the upper left corner, you will see that this
          article is clearly noted as “opinion.” Delving into it a little further, you will see that the author works for a think tank called Cato Institute, where his bio proudly proclaims him thus: The Washington Post has dubbed him the “intellectual guru of tort reform.”
          Have a nice day. Betsy

      • Charlene Blake

        Disqus, please cite the facts that support that Koua Fong Lee “screwed up.” Also, how exactly is the revelation of a pattern of sudden unintended acceleration in a significant number of Toyotas considered a “witch hunt?” Are you implying that a select group of Toyota owners…the bread and butter of the company…decided to scam Toyota?

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          No, not directly. But people who don’t know that the tall one on the right is the gas pedal screwed up–namely old ladies (and probably this guy). The witch hunt is in regard to the fact that nothing is/was wrong with these vehicles and the media (in all their wisdom), along with a few morons like Parris, perpetuated a problem that DOES NOT EXIST. Facts don’t lie. Lawyers do, and gullible people like Parris and probably yourself can’t or won’t believe the actual facts that are supported by multiple, independent engineering sources.

          • Charlene Blake

            Disqus, you say that “lawyers lie.” Are you then also putting the Toyota lawyers under the same scrutiny? Let’s make it perfectly clear that historically, Toyota has blamed its vehicle owners for many of the known defects in its vehicles. The finger-pointing at the vehicle owners is an insult to them. The question is why does Toyota feel the need to blame the vehicle owners when evidence shows otherwise?

            Take for instance the engine oil sludge matter. Toyota has scorned its own vehicle owners for not properly changing their oil…for over a decade now! As you know, lies aren’t limited to lawyers. Bruce C. Ertmann, a former CEO at Toyota in Customer Relations, claimed that Toyota sent out 3.3 million vehicle owner notification letters when Toyota finally agreed to repair vehicles plagued with engine failure due to oil sludge. In fact, a fraction of these letters were sent out…not the 3.3 million promised. Further, Toyota did not honor it’s own special program to repair these vehicles. Toyota allowed countless owners to cough up thousands of dollars in repairs. Even after a successful class action lawsuit was brought against Toyota, the company found loopholes to deny repair coverage for vehicle owners. Owners continued to be blamed in error.

            Aside from “sticky” accelerator pedals in some Toyotas, the Toyota Sienna minivan vehicle owners experienced sticking sliding doors. The doors could not be opened from the inside or outside…a safety issue. What did Toyota do? Once again. It blamed the vehicle owners. It said that owners spilled sticky drinks in the door tracks which caused the problem. In fact, there was a door lock problem.

            How about the ABS issue? Toyota owners are blamed for misuse of the braking system when their vehicles don’t stop in light snow or rain conditions. Accidents have resulted and yet Toyota chooses to blame the vehicle owners instead of issuing a recall when patterns of brake failures occur.

            I don’t think pointing the finger at “little old ladies” in the SUA is going to be a very scientific approach. In the case of Toyota engine oil sludge, a better approach might be to examine scientifically what’s happening to the engine oil in some Toyotas to note the extreme oxidation due to high heat. Likewise, examine the internal failures in the ABS following brake failure. Consider expert Michael Barr’s findings of a fault within the ETCS and the lack of a fail-safe mode in applicable Toyota vehicles.

            Toyota’s “witch hunt” on its own vehicle owners is a real insult. Doesn’t it understand this? Does it believe that vehicle owners aren’t going to speak up? The Toyota owners are not “gullible.” They aren’t going to accept the blame when evidence is shown to the contrary.

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            Mr. Qx, Toyota’s internal documents show clearly that the company’s own engineers were extremely concerned about electronics-related causes of SUA. They held many meetings all about it, they tested cars, one gentleman named Mr. Deto in particular admitted in writing that the engineers concluded that the electrical engineering department was responsible for the speed control problems in the market (SUA, in other words), citing in particular the many parts of the pedal sensor assembly, the connectors, the software, etc. Others said a problem was due to a software bug, to cruise control malfunction, and so forth. Others analyzed the amount of safety-related defects that were flowing from factories into the market. Do you want to see these documents for yourself? You can see them. The facts are there, right where Toyota knows they are. These docs were given to the DOJ.
            Have a nice day. Betsy

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            The facts are there, alright. The same ones that NHTSA, NASA, NAS, Exponent and others reached: Driver error.

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            So you think these organizations are so authoritative? I happen to be good buddies with some people from NASA. They were there, and they will be very clear with anyone who cares to ask them that the “sound bite” study findings declared by social studies teacher, er, sorry Secretary of Transportation LaHood for a press conference did not represent the findings in NASA’s labs by engineers and failure analysts. Dr. Henning Leidecker of NASA went on camera a few weeks ago to say this on TV here in Israel. Do you want the link? Are you interested in what he actually said?

            Michael Barr, furthermore, listed the key items that Toyota hid from NASA. These were as follows:
            2005 Camry L4 source code and in-vehicle tests confirm:
            ! Some critical variables are not protected from corruption
            Mirroring was not always done
            Ø  NASA didn’t know this (believed mirroring was always done)
            No hardware protection against bit flips
            Ø  NASA didn’t know this (was told main CPU’s RAM had EDAC)
            ! Sources of memory corruption are present
            Stack overflow can occur
            Ø  NASA didn’t know this (was told stack less than half used)
            There are software bugs
            Ø  NASA found bugs (and Barr Group has found others)
            Thus Toyota’s ETCS software can malfunction …

            Mr. Qx, let me repeat what Barr said … “NASA didn’t know this (believed mirroring was always done)”
            When Toyota did know something, and NASA asked and did not find out that fact, what is that, Mr. Qx, the truth?

            So on what basis of *fact* do you say that there is proof electronic glitches do not exist, and it is all driver error?

            Have a nice day. Betsy.

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            This is a reply I wrote to Mr. X whose posts have now all been deleted. Well, I wrote it, so I might as well post it anyway….

            “Actual facts” is not an accurate description of the documents that NASA – NHTSA published as reports. If a scientific claim is to be accepted as fact by the community of scientists and engineers, it must be verifiable experimentally by others. The NASA / NHTSA study was so heavily redacted that no others could verify it. So what it contains is simply unproven claims. One person who I know who is very close with Toyota’s defense legal team, and who is not given to exaggeration, noticed that some of the text in the report was written in a defense counsel’s unique writing style. A lawyer for Toyota, mind you, writing the text of the NASA-NHTSA study report!!! What does that tell you about the nature of its “actual facts?” Furthermore, a NASA scientist who has been speaking anonymously to media, and who I know, said to me in the parking lot of NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, that you know, he said, this study was “an embarrassment, it was completely unscientific.” and later I heard another one say that he sure hoped Toyota would not be able to use such a study in court. And it has been reported that there were some participants in the study who were so appalled at the way the findings were misrepresented that they refused to sign it. So, these guys have PhDs in their fields and they are eminent. Therefore, I dispute your assertion that what was published was “facts.” I suggest instead that they may be closer to a system of beliefs or wishful thinking by Toyota’s lawyers who wrote some of the text and who demanded much be redacted.

            Oh, yes, and one more thing. S. Kane found out after the reports were published that Toyota’s defense “science” firm Exponent was hired to analyze the statistics in the NHTSA report. Are they objective?

            Have a nice day. Betsy.

          • Charlene Blake

            Betsy, I see that “disqus” has left this site. Your facts are no match for his conjecture, IMO. It looks like Toyota is attempting to control public perception. Pathetic question is just how far will it go to do so? You have proven with the disclosure of facts within Toyota’s own internal documents that Toyota will fabricate the truth, distort the facts, force collusion by government entities,

  • Charlene Blake

    Google “Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU” for some critical information on Toyota sudden acceleration. The Camry SUA that caused the three-year false imprisonment of Koua Fong Lee in 1996 is different from the Toyota fault-caused SUA discovered by computer expert Michael Barr in the electronic throttle control software. Interestingly enough, the settlement reached between the DOJ and Toyota for $1.2 BILLION doesn’t address the SUA caused by the Toyota software bug found by Michael Barr. It would seem then that the cause of the more recent Toyota SUA has not been resolved for vehicle owners. Is their safety at risk?

  • Charlene Blake

    Pardon me, but I’m unclear on what you are trying to tell us. You mentioned Parris Boyd’s blog and indicated that no one was going to read it. To the contrary, the Mr. Boyd’s blog has been well-received by readers already. His blog gives valid links to articles which do cite the facts that are lacking in your attacking post. I know when I look to blogs, I am seeking credible information. I found just that on his “Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU” blog. It’s commendable that the blog author is transparent and doesn’t hide behind anonymous postings. I’d encourage you to read the blog carefully. I’ve experienced the censorship he mentionsin his blog in my past Toyota engine oil sludge consumer efforts. Seems anonymous entities are more than happy to defame and incite in an effort to stop vocal consumers from speaking out. Hopefully, you aren’t one of them;)

    • Betsy Benjaminson

      Dear Guest, I have the bulk of the documents that the DOJ also used in its case against Toyota. Their Statement of Facts that was disclosed as part of the announcement of the $1.2 billion fine reads like a summary of the documents on this computer. But aside from those docs, I also received 230 docs related to electronics as a separate batch for translation. What happened to those after they left my hands? I don’t know. They got to the defense law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, but where they went from there is anyone’s guess, and the DOJ is not talking. But I have other evidence that the DOJ investigators deliberately did not address the electronics defects found by Barr. They must have had proper legal reasons not to. But now that Toyota is legally bound to tell the absolute truth in all its public statements, I wonder whether they can be forced to disclose their own concerns about the unreliability of their ETC and the unpredictability of their vehicle behavior. Toyota, are you listening? What do you have to say about the engineering of your ETC and failsafe now? How can you explain the 70% of SUA that your own execs, including Mr. Lentz, admitted cannot be explained by floor mats and sticky pedal. Surely you cannot credibly attribute all of that to driver error, when there are documented cases of SUA in which no pedal was being pressed at all. You have a document with a picture of a tachometer with high RPMs and no one in the driver’s seat at all. And at your Shibetsu proving ground, your driver conducted a test with sherbet and gravel even, and the car did not pass. It revved without pedal input or sticky pedal. Other documented cases abound. What do you and your trolls have to say about these documented cases?

      • Charlene Blake

        So basically Toyota is still keeping quiet about its own internal concerns about electronic malfunctions in the ETCS?

  • Charlene Blake

    Trudy BALTAZAR has just written a book entitled A Road to Freedom: Strangers Restore Justice for an Innocent Man. She was instrumental in helping Koua Fong Lee in his quest to be freed from false imprisonment. I’ve downloaded the Kindle version of her book from Amazon.

    I want to personally thank her for her courageous effort. I look forward to reading her book to learn more about Mr. Lee’s heart-wrenching case. I understand that Mr. Lee has a case pending against Toyota. It is my hope that Toyota does right by him and does not allow him to suffer further. Time will tell whether or not Toyota will make amends or not.

  • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

    NewsCut rules require (1) everyone use their real name and (2).commenters shall not hurl personal insults at one another. Observe or be gone.

    • Charlene Blake

      Thank you for noting the insults by the anonymous poster.

    • Betsy Benjaminson

      Please note that mr. Disqus ….Qx does not appear to be using his real name. Could you please ask him to disclose it? Thanks! Have a nice day. Betsy.

  • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

    If people really want to know the truth about the bugs, defects, and malfunctions in the embedded software source codes in toyota’s with electronic throttle, go to emebddedgurus dot com. There’s a heading titled “An Update on Toyota and Sudden Unintended Acceleration”. Once you get to the page, toward the bottom is a link to the court transcripts from Michael Barr’s 2-day testimony during the last wrongful death lawsuit that Toyota lost in Oct. 2014. Michael is an expert embedded software engr and he was given 20 months to view the source codes for toyota’s electronic throttle control.

    • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

      oops, I meant to say the trial in Oct, 2013.

  • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

    I attended the Eveidentiary Hearing for Koua Fong Lee in St. Paul, MN in 2010 which resulted in his full pardon because he was proven innocent. I heard 11 drivers of the ’96 Camry (same as Koua’s car) and the ’95 Camry and they all had the exact same experience of UA and loss of brakes. Many of them had two feet on the brakes. Toyota claims driver error in many of these accidents, so I’d like to know what foot is on the accelerator when both feet are on the brakes? Toyota’s other claim was a floor matt issue, tell that to the families of the four who died (Monty Hardy, Wendy Akion, Sharon Ransom, and Hadassah Vance) after landing upside down in a pond Southlake, TX after the driver’s Toyota suddenly unintentionally accelerated and the driver couldn’t stop the car. Her floor matts were found in the trunk of the car by paramedics.

    • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

      I’d like to know how you know what exactly was going on in the car when you weren’t there.

      • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

        I attended the 3 1/2 day Evidentiary Hearing where an expert forensic engineer gave an outstanding testimony about this particular accident where Koua Fong Lee was the driver. I have seen the police report written the night of the accident and heard other testimonies from other drivers. I have written a book about the court details and all the mistakes that were made in Koua’s original trial in 2007. I did not know Koua and never heard of him, just felt the need to stand up against the injustice. My book is on Amazon if you’re interested.

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          Not interested. Thanks. For actual facts, read Toyota Under Fire. It shows how the company came back stronger after the witch-hunt.

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            What does this book say about the defects themselves? People who drive Toyotas want to know about that most of all.
            Have a nice day. Betsy.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            It proves most of them were bogus.
            Have a nice day.

          • Betsy Benjaminson

            Mr. Qx, our moderator has asked that we abide by his rules to use our real names. What is your name? And can you explain the exact scientific findings revealed in this book that prove that most of the SUA defects are bogus? That makes no sense to me because I read the Toyota engineers saying there are software bugs, for one example. So I want to learn more. But first, your name. Have a nice day. Betsy.

          • Charlene Blake

            I believe the pieces of Toyota’s admitted deceptive puzzle are slowly being put together. But, of course, this company has proponents who continue to say it’s all about the conspiring vehicle owners who simply either don’t know how to drive or who abuse their vehicles. Unconscionable.

          • Charlene Blake

            Who exactly are you saying conducted a “witch hunt” on Toyota? Hmm…who has the power that billions of dollars can buy? Who admitted to deceiving the public and the U.S. government? And, more importantly, who are the ones who were injured or killed as a result of information withheld? Rest my case.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            The media, congress, money-hungry lawyers and their paid “experts”…NHTSA was desperate they’d find a defect, and when they didn’t, Lahood had to backtrack on his dumb comments to “stop driving your Toyota.” Funny how unintended acceleration knows how to target primarily older women only in the US…

          • Charlene Blake

            Ooohhhh…the grand conspiracy against Toyota.

          • Charlene Blake

            Toyota has continued to adhere to the driver error theory based on the outdated 1989 NHTSA investigation into sudden unintended acceleration. It finally admitted to the floor mat explanation (sounds like a minor issue, doesn’t it…kind of like “engine oil gelation” when major engine oil sludging was going on) and/or the sticky accelerator explanation when driver error was an illogical explanation.

            What happens when neither floor mats or a sticky accelerator can explain the SUA, sudden unintended acceleration? Back to Toyota’s driver misapplication theory with no hint of its own internal document admission of real concerns with the “ghost in the machine” or unpredictable electronic behavior. What’s really going on here?

        • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

          The car Koua was driving was saved. It’s still available today and it has been inspected.

      • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

        The judge herself spoke for 45 minutes at the end of the 3 1/2 day Evidentiary Hearing and went over every single mistake the state made against Koua in his 2007 trial. She was the original judge presiding over the original trial. You don’t have to take my word on it.

        • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

          I’m not. The state may have screwed up, but there was nothing wrong with the car.

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Nothing wrong with the car huh? You know that better than the inspectors that have inspected the car huh?

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            The one’s paid for by Lee’s attorneys? Yes, I do.

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Your’e not seriously referring to the “expert mechanic” who testified for the prosecution in ’07 that Koua’s car did NOT have anti-lock brakes? I sat in that court room while they showed the image of Koua’s smashed up Toyota during the Evidentiary Hearing and you can SEE the ABS brake unit in the photo. Yet Gaertner’s expert mechanic said there was not ABS brake unit in Koua’s car? That’s who you’re referring to? I would say that mechanic has clearly been discredited.You obviously don’t know the whole truth of this case.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            mechanic does not equal mechanical engineer.

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            And did you attend the Evidentiary Hearing in 2010 in this case that showed all the mistakes made by engineers from the ’06 accident? Even the reconstruction team’s series of events were proven wrong and didn’t match the police report written that night. You can copy and paste articles and posts that were written before the truth was revealed in 2010, but it doesn’t mean it’s the truth. The wrongful death lawsuit regarding this accident goes to court later this year, the truth will be revealed then too.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            None of what you’re saying changes the fact the driver error was the cause. People make mistakes–that’s why erasers are on pencils. Why is it so hard to accept?

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Well apparently the judge did not agree that it was driver error did she? It was blatantly obvious in that Evidentiary Hearing that it was not driver error, and the prosecution cross examined every expert that was called to prove it. You don’t know what you’re talking about in this case and you shouldn’t be publicly blaming an innocent victim of Toyota’s lack of concern for driver and passenger safety. Toyota has already admitted to 10 yrs of cover ups and lies. Accept it diqus

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Why would you accuse inspectors of private insurance companies like that? Accusing them of being paid off? Wow

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Yeah just like nothing was wrong with all the other 44 drivers who experienced the exact same thing in their ’95 & ’96 Camry. One of those other drivers is a pilot for the Military and for a large private airline – he knows how to drive and how stop a moving vehicle pretty well. Just because the events are untraceable and not recordable, doesn’t mean there’s nothing mechanically wrong.

          • Charlene Blake

            Exactly, Trudy!

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            So? The guy in San Diego was a police officer and he died as the result of a wrong floor mat trapping the accelerator pedal. He didn’t know how to shift to neutral or that the brakes are engineered to overpower an engine even at full throttle. Driver error can happen to anyone.

          • Charlene Blake

            Convenient the TOYOTA dealership could claim the wrong floor mat was installed, isn’t it? Since the vehicle was BURNED to a crisp after accelerating to over 100 miles an hour with an understandably fear-stricken family inside, there isn’t much that can be down to determine if there was an electronic failure in the ETCS.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            It’s in the police report. If you knew what you were talking about, you’d know that the dealership was sued too–they didn’t own up to putting the wrong floormat there, or “claim the wrong floor mat was installed.”

          • Charlene Blake

            The official San Diego (Saylor) accident report says in part:

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            Now you’re making me laugh.

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            He was a highway patrol and he was on the phone with 911 during his entire event and the entire incident was voice recorded, He tried plenty to stop that car from killing his family. He specialized in knowing how to handle high speed chases and even HE couldn’t stop the out of control car.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            Exactly. Victim of a wrong floor mat. Look up the police report. NHTSA came to the same conclusion.

          • Trudy Groppoli Baltazar

            NHTSA couldn’t find the problems with Toyota’s electronic throttle control source codes either. You’re giving info on old reports.

          • Charlene Blake

            Something is amiss there.

          • Charlene Blake

            It would be very helpful and much more credible if we knew your real name. Is there a reason to go into the shadows on this topic? True transparency requires the willingness to be totally open publicly. This is what the Toyota vehicle owners have expected from Toyota all along. It’s just too bad Toyota hasn’t been forthcoming in this very serious safety matter.

          • disqus_R5AHDsvIQx

            Would it? I know your name and you aren’t credible at all.

          • Charlene Blake

            O.K.

    • Charlene Blake

      Excellent point, Trudy! Can’t wait to read your book:)

  • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

    Many comments in this thread were deleted because of a violation of terms of service. In addition, the email address supplied matched that on a database of email and data stolen by the Syrian Electronic Army in a break-in of Forbes.

    But beyond that, the inability of unwillingness to engage in an intelligent discussion of issues without hurling insults at other commenters will almost always get your comment deleted. A difference of opinion is fine, a flame war will never be tolerated.

  • Charlene Blake

    My guess is that Toyota doesn’t want any more emphasis on Koua Fong Lee’s heart-wrenching

  • Charlene Blake

    Shouldn’t someone be considering the points covered in Dr. Antony Anderson’s recent paper which address the NHTSA’s faulty determination that SUA was the result of driver pedal misapplication?

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6777269

    Shouldn’t someone be examining the electronic software shortcomings in the Toyota ETCS uncovered by computer expert, Michael Barr?

    http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1319903

  • Charlene Blake

    There remain some very tough questions for Toyota, the NHTSA, and the DOJ to answer:
    1) Why haven’t Professor David Gilbert’s and embedded systems expert Michael Barr’s findings of an electronic fault without adequate fail-safe in the Toyota ETCS been fully examined?
    2) Why hasn’t Dr. Antony Anderson’s logical debunking of NHTSA’s 1989 driver error determination of SUA been considered?
    3) Why haven’t the Toyota internal documents of Toyota Whistleblower, Betsy Benjaminson, been acknowledged and accepted as evidence in Toyota’s criminal investigation? Toyota engineers admit concern about the “ghost in the machine” and the unpredictability of the performance of the ETCS.
    4) Why are the Toyota owners both the field-testers and fail-safe applicators for their own vehicles’ questionably-designed ETCS?
    5) Most importantly, how many more deaths have to occur before someone takes charge of permanently eliminating the unacceptable risks to both the Toyota drivers and those they encounter on the roads and highways?