A jury has ordered Chrysler to pay $150 million in damages in the death of a 4-year-old boy when a 1999 Jeep in which the boy was a passenger, was rear-ended causing the gas tank located behind the rear axle to explode into flames.
The case is focusing attention on older sports utility vehicles with fuel tanks that are vulnerable and are known dangers.
The jury found the company acted with “reckless or wanton disregard for human life in the design or sale” of the Jeep SUV and failed to warn that the vehicle was hazardous.
In 2013, the company recalled millions of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs with model years ranging from 1993 to 2007 to address concerns about their fuel tanks. The Grand Cherokee at issue in the lawsuit is among vehicles the company is inspecting in lieu of a recall. The company is installing trailer hitches on the backs of Jeeps to add protection in lower-speed collisions.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.