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Chrysler Ordered to Pay $150M due to Jeep Fire

Automaker plans to appeal verdict.

by on Apr.03, 2015

Despite testimony by CEO Sergio Marchionne saying the Jeep's rear-mounted fuel tank is safe, jurors awarded a $150 million to a Georgia family.

A Georgia jury on Thursday awarded $150 million to the family of a boy who burned to death in a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee after a rear-end collision, finding Fiat Chrysler LLC’s rear-positioned fuel tank in the Jeep posed a fire risk and killed the child.

The Decatur County, Georgia, jury reached the verdict just hours after closing arguments concluded the eight-day trial, granting the family’s request for $120 million for the full value of 4-year-old Remington Walden’s life. Jurors found that Fiat Chrysler knew of the potential danger and the jury said Chrysler, the maker of Jeeps, must pay.

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The jury ruled that Chrysler acted with reckless disregard for human life in selling the family of Remington “Remi” Walden a 1999 Jeep with a gas tank mounted behind the rear axle. (more…)

Chrysler Caves to Feds – Will Recall 2.7 Million Jeeps

Bows to court of public opinion but maintains there’s no defect.

by on Jun.18, 2013

A 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of the 2.7 million vehicles covered by the recall.

In a sudden and unexpected shift, Chrysler has decided to acquiesce to a demand by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and recall 2.7 million older Jeeps federal regulators claim are at risk of catching fire in rear-end collisions.

The maker has issued a statement advising that it “will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts.”

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As recently as this morning, Chrysler officials were signaling that they would reject the recall request even if that meant squaring up with NHTSA in court. But a senior Chrysler source acknowledged that the maker came to recognize it might be able to win that battle yet still could lose in the court of public opinion.

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Jeep Facing Deadline –Potential Legal Battle — Over Recall

Maker so far rejecting fed regulators’ demands.

by on Jun.18, 2013

Chrysler is signalling it will decline a NHTSA request to recall 2.7 million Jeep Libertys and Grand Cherokees.

Barring a last-minute retreat, Chrysler is expected to formally advise the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it won’t recall 2.7 million older Jeep models federal safety regulators claim are at risk of catching fire in rear-end collisions.

That would set off one of the biggest showdowns ever between the government and an automaker, though even if the case goes to a jury the real test might come through the court of public opinion.  While Jeep parent Chrysler has won some support from those who see NHTSA over-reaching its authority, the automaker is already facing pressure from consumer groups and Jeep owners worried about their safety.

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NHTSA set the showdown in motion earlier this month when it declared that older Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty models with gas tanks mounted behind their rear axles are at risk of catching fire in rear-end collisions.  The government claims 51 people have been killed in fiery crashes resulting from what it describes as a design defect.

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Feds Investigating Fire Risk With Millions Of Jeeps

As many as 3 million SUVs could be targeted.

by on Aug.25, 2010

NHTSA begins an investigation into potential fire risks with the 1992 - 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

A preliminary investigation has been opened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into reports that the plastic fuel tanks on as many as 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs could be prone to rupture during a rear-end collision, creating a potential fire risk.

The investigation does not ensure a recall will follow, but if NHTSA does order a fix, it would be one of the year’s largest, dwarfed only by the pair of recalls by Toyota to repair problems that can cause sudden acceleration problems.

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The Jeep investigation was triggered by a complaint by the consumer advocacy group, the Center for Auto Safety, (CAS) which argues that the placement of the fuel tank in 1993 through 2004 Grand Cherokees, behind the rear axle and below the back bumper, means it is vulnerable to damage in a rear-end collision.  Should it leak, a ruptured or damaged tank would create a fire hazard following a collision.

The potential problem does not involve the brand-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, nor the outgoing model, launched in 2005.  CAS data indicate the older Jeeps have a fatal fire rate six times higher than that of the more recent Grand Cherokee – and about four times higher than competing sport-utility vehicles.

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