Attorneys for St. Paul driver Koua Fong Lee want to make sure his car stays in Minnesota. This week Toyota demanded Lee's 1996 Camry -- the car Lee was driving when he crashed into another vehicle in 2006, killing three people.
The car is currently in storage, under the control of the St. Paul Police Department, and could be needed as evidence in future legal action.
Lee was released from prison three weeks ago, after a hearing which supported Lee's original testimony that his car suddenly accelerated on its own, causing the fatal crash. Toyota has been dealing for months with similar claims of unexpected acceleration in other models of its cars.
Lee's attorney, Brent Schafer, says attorneys for Lee and the victims' families are negotiating with Toyota on a protective order for the car, which is the subject of four lawsuits filed on behalf of the people killed and injured in the accident.
"We should have control of the access to the vehicle," he said. "The protective order is meant to make everybody feel comfortable that we are not going to do anything to the vehicle. But the bottom line is that it is owned by Mr. Lee, and we feel that we should control where it goes and who has access to it."
Attorneys say they hope an agreement over access to Lee's car will be filed in federal court in St. Paul by the end of this week.
Toyota said in a statement that the company believes that "no single party -- be it Mr. Lee, the plaintiffs, or Toyota - should have exclusive access or right of control over this evidence."