Chrysler Hit with $150M Verdict in Jeep Fire Death

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The family of a 4-year-old boy killed by a fire in an auto accident was awarded $150 million on April 2, 2015 by a Georgia jury for fuel tanks defectively designed by Chrysler Group LLC.  The verdict stated that Chrysler acted with a “reckless or wanton disregard for human life” and failed to warn customers of the potential hazards associated with the company’s Jeep brand rear-mounted fuel tank.

Remington “Remi” Walden, sitting in a child-booster seat, was riding in his aunt’s 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee heading to a tennis lesson in March 2012 when the auto accident occurred.  The Jeep was rear-ended by pick-up truck that caused the fuel tank to leak, engulfing the Jeep in flames which killed Walden.  The family’s personal injury attorneys alleged that “numerous witnesses saw Walden struggling to escape and heard him screaming for help.”  The other driver as well as Walden’s aunt sustained minor injuries as a result of the auto accident.

Walden’s personal injury attorneys claimed during trial that Chrysler knew of the potential dangers posed by its placement of gas tanks within its vehicles.  Chrysler’s vehicle design before 2000, argued Walden’s personal injury attorneys, put fuel-tanks that could explode if impacted behind the rear axil, only 11 inches from the rear bumper.  Walden’s personal injury attorneys furthered explained that in 2013 Chrysler had agreed to recall 1.56 million Jeeps after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) initially recommended that 2.7 million be recalled.  Furthermore, Walden’s personal injury attorneys where able to show that Federal records documented that at least 75 people have died from vehicle fires caused by rear-end auto accidents.

This was the first case of its kind to go to trial, but that did not prevent jurors from quickly holding Chrysler accountable.  Within two hours after the closing arguments of Walden’s personal injury attorney, the jurors determined that Chrysler was 99% at fault for the auto accident and the truck driver, currently incarcerated for vehicle homicide, was only 1% at fault.  The verdict also stated that Chrysler failed to adequately warn the family of the dangers of driving the Jeep.  Walden’s personal injury attorney was able to secure $120 million for the death of Walden and $30 million for his pain and suffering from the auto accident.

The Jeep involved in Walden’s case, James Walden and Lindsay Strickland, on behalf of Remington Cole Walden v. Chrysler Group LLC, was ultimately not part of the 2013 recall, but was initially requested by NHTSA to be included.  After the verdict, Walden’s personal injury attorney said that “Chrysler consciously chose to put American families at risk and gambled that juries would not figure it out.”  Although the Georgia jury proved Chrysler wrong, there are still an alarming number of Chrysler vehicles with similar defects used by Americans today.

Romanow Law Group handles all types of products liability claims. If you believe you have been injured by a defective product, please call us today at (412) 642-9100 to schedule a free consultation.