In March 2012 in Bainbridge, Georgia, Emily Newsome was driving her four year old nephew, Remington “Remi” Walden to a tennis lesson in a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Remi was in a booster seat in the back. A Dodge Dakota rear ended the Jeep, which injured Remi–a fractured leg. Tragically, the Jeep had a fuel tank near the inside of the back bumper which was not protected from a rear end collision, and a fire ignited due to the accident. The four year old strapped into a child booster seat was killed by that fire; witnesses could not get him out of the car in time.
Our Atlanta product liability lawyers appreciate the heartbreak of these and similar stories. Remi’s parents, Bryan and Lindsay Walden, filed a lawsuit against Chrysler, the owner of Jeep, in the Superior Court of Decatur County. The lawsuit alleges that Chrysler knew that the gas tank was in a dangerous location in the so called “crush zone” behind the car’s rear axle and the company failed to do anything to prevent gas tank ruptures like the one that killed Remi. Chrysler has denied fault in Remi’s death and says the boy died solely due to the negligence of the driver of the Dodge Dakota that hit them.
Chrysler’s assertion is in opposition to the opinion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has pressured Chrysler to recall the affected vehicles- namely 1994 to 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 to 2007 Jeep Libertys. The NHTSA says that Remi is not the only victim and 51 people total have died in accidents that caught fire from a Jeep with a gas tank behind the rear axle. Chrysler argued earlier this month that the vehicles do not have a high risk of catching fire when rear ended and refused NHTSA’s call for a recall. Had they continued to stonewall, there might have been public hearings and ended up in court which would have hurt Chrysler’s image. So last week Chrysler agreed to deal with a recall of 1.56 million Jeeps, but does not include all the ones the NHTSA wants covered. It covers only 1993 to 1998 Jeep Cherokees and 2002 to 2007 Libertys. Cherokees from 1999 to 2004 would be in a “consumer service action”, offering to inspect but not do anything to make the vehicles safer, as Chrysler maintains they are safe already. It also does not intend to put a steel plate over the gas tank, made of plastic, as consumer groups have asked for. Instead, Chrysler plans to put in a trailer hitch to the recalled cars which would provide some protection if the vehicle is rear ended at low speed.
Atlanta Product Liability Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a defective product, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter can help. Product liability cases are often complicated and a personal injury lawyer can assist in understanding the case and legal options. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter today at 404-814-8949, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.
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