A Minnesota man imprisoned for vehicular homicide but released after a series of ABC News reports on an apparent defect in some Toyota models will now receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the car manufacturer, part of a multi-million dollar verdict against the company.
Late Tuesday car manufacturer Toyota was ordered to pay $11 million to the victims of a 2006 car crash that claimed the lives of three people and to Koua Fong Lee, the driver of one vehicle who was imprisoned for more than two years.
Lee was featured in an ABC News investigation into “sudden acceleration,” a phenomenon in which Toyota drivers said their vehicle could randomly take off on its own and could not be stopped. Ever since the deadly 2006 accident, Lee had maintained that his 1996 Toyota Camry was defective and that it wasn't his fault the car rammed into an Oldsmobile, killing three people, including two children.
Lee was freed from prison in 2010 and at the time his attorney, Bob Hillard, said it was “the result of the ABC report that brought the people to help us,” including dozens of witnesses who came forward with similar stories about unintended acceleration. A judge ruled then that there was enough new evidence for Lee to get a new trial, but prosecutors said they would not pursue him.
Late Tuesday, in a new suit against Toyota, a jury in Minneapolis found that the car maker was mostly – 60 percent – to blame for the 2006 accident because Lee’s Camry was defective, though the jury said Lee was still 40 percent at fault, according to The Associated Press.
“No amount of money… will bring my life back. My life is not the same anymore,” Lee said after the verdict, the AP reported. “I tried everything I could to stop my car.”
Of the $10.94 million Toyota has reportedly been ordered to pay, Lee is expected to receive $750,000.
In a statement provided to ABC News, Toyota said the company respects the jury’s decision, but believes "the evidence clearly demonstrated that Mr. Lee's 1996 Camry was not the cause of this unfortunate accident." The company said it would consider its legal options.
ABC News' Divya Kumar and The Associated Press contributed to this report.