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February 2015 Archives

$11M Awarded in Toyota Camry Sudden Unintended Acceleration Lawsuit

February 4 2015
An $11 million verdict has been awarded to the plaintiffs in aToyota sudden acceleration personal injury lawsuit resulting from a defect in a 1996 Camry. The jury ruled that the defect contributed to an accident which left three people dead and two seriously injured. While the jury found that the Camry's driver, Koua Fong Lee, was 40% responsible for the crash, they cited Toyota as being 60 percent responsible. In the 2006 crash Lee rear-ended an Oldsmobile after exiting a highway. The driver of the Oldsmobile, Javis Trice-Adams Sr., and his son were instantly killed. His niece, also in the Oldsmobile, became a quadriplegic as a result of the crash and died 18 months later. Trice-Adams' father and daughter were also injured. The jury awarded both families a combined $11.4 million, though due to Lee's partial responsibility, his $1.25 million award will be reduced to $750,000, according to his lawyers. In 2008, Lee was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison. However, his conviction was overturned after Toyota's recalls of later-model cars for acceleration defects, tied to floor mats and pedals, brought new attention to the case. Lee had claimed that the Camry started to accelerate by itself and that the car didn't respond when he hit the brakes. Prosecutors declined to re-charge Lee, who served more than two years in prison. In 2010, the Trice-Adams family sued Toyota claiming a defect in the Camry caused it to suddenly accelerate. Lee and his family intervened as plaintiffs later that year. The plaintiffs argued the accelerator got stuck in a "near wide-open position," calling other Camry owners to testify at trial that they experienced similar problems. The law firm of Hallett, Zerillo, and Whipple, P.A. are Maine attorneys representing clients who have been seriously injured, accused of crimes in state and federal court, have business litigation needs or family law and divorce cases. Various attorneys in the firm have been locally and nationally recognized for their achievements, including admission into New England Super Lawyers, the Client's Choice Award from AVVO.com, and the President's Award from the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. For more information on the firm, please visit www.HZWlaw.com

In re J.H.

Justia Opinion Summary  Father killed Mother in their oldest son's immediate presence. The probate court terminated Father's parental rights pursuant to 22 Me. Rev. Stat. 4055(1)(B)(2)(a). The court presumed jeopardy against Father with respect to the oldest son based on its finding that Father acted in callous disregard for his son's emotional well-being and had failed to protect his son from "a profound emotional injury" in a manner that was heinous and abhorrent to society. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the presumption of jeopardy does not apply only when a parent inflicts physical harm upon a child and that the presumption was applicable in this case.

United States v. Voisine, No. 12-1213 (1st Cir. 2015)

Justia Opinion Summary  Defendants were charged with being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9). The indictments listed Defendants' previous convictions under Maine's misdemeanor assault statutes as the predicate offenses. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that their indictment and information did not charge a federal offense. The district court denied the motions. Defendants then entered guilty pleas conditioned on the right to appeal. The First Circuit consolidated the cases and affirmed, concluding that Defendants had indeed been convicted under state law of "misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence" as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33)(A), even though the state statutes allowed convictions based on a recklessness mens rea. Thereafter, the Supreme Court directed the First Circuit to reconsider its decision in light of United States v. Castleman, in which the Supreme Court left open whether a conviction with the mens rea of recklessness could serve as a section 922(g)(9) predicate. The First Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss the indictment and information, holding that a conviction for reckless assault against a person in a domestic relationship in Maine constitutes a federal "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."