$150M Jury Verdict Awarded to Family in Jeep Fire Death of Child
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on April 10th, 2015
The family of a 4-year-old boy who was killed when their Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle burst into flames after being rear-ended in a March 2012 crash has been awarded $150 million in damages by a Georgia jury.
The boy, Remington “Remi” Walden, of Bainbridge, Georgia, was a passenger in the 1999 Jeep that was being driven at the time by his aunt, according to an April 6 story by the Associated Press. The Jeep was struck from behind, causing the fuel tank to leak and sparking a fire that engulfed the vehicle in flames, killing the child, the story reported.
“The verdict comes nearly two years after Chrysler compromised with a federal safety agency and agreed to a scaled-down recall of some older-model Jeeps with the rear-mounted tanks,” the story reported. “The tanks have little structure to protect them if struck from behind, making them susceptible to punctures and fires.”
At least 75 people have died in fires following crashes due to the leaks caused in impacts involving the rear-mounted fuel tanks, reported the AP.
The jury ruled after a nine-day trial that Chrysler “acted with reckless disregard for human life” when it sold the Jeep with its gas tank mounted behind the rear axle, according to the story. Chrysler was found to be 99 percent at fault for the crash by the jury, while the pickup truck driver was found to be 1 percent at fault. The jury “also determined that Chrysler failed to warn the family of the hazards of driving the Jeep.”
The boy was being driven to a tennis lesson when the crash occurred, according to the story. “Numerous witnesses saw Remi struggling to escape and heard him screaming for help,” the family’s lawsuit alleged, wrote the AP. “The lawsuit alleged that Chrysler placed the gas tank in a ‘crush zone’ behind the rear axle and knew the location was dangerous, and that the company failed to protect the gas tank against rupturing.”
The child’s family was awarded $30 million for the boy’s pain and suffering and $120 million for the full value of his life, the story reported.
“Chrysler has long contended that the Jeeps were no more dangerous than comparable SUVs built at the time,” the story reported. “It used that argument to convince the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013 to allow it to recall 1.56 million Jeeps after the government agency initially recommended that 2.7 million be repaired. Under the recall, Chrysler agreed to install trailer hitches in the rear as an extra layer of protection.”
That previous recall has been called inadequate by some safety advocates in the past, the story reported. “Clarence Ditlow, the head of the Center for Auto Safety, called on the government to reopen its investigation against Chrysler,” the report continued.
These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.