On March 6, 2012, the Waldens were driving in Bainbridge, Georgia when their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was struck from behind by a vehicle that was traveling more than 50 miles per hour. Neither of the Drivers of either vehicle were injured in the impact. The 4-year old child that sat in the back seat of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, manufactured by Chrysler, only suffered a fractured leg until the Jeep burst into flames causing the death of the young Remington Walden. The parent’s marriage would also die that fateful night.
This was not the first time that a vehicle with this gas tank design had exploded causing Catastrophic Injury or Death, and Chrysler knew it as they settled claims quietly and recalled just enough vehicles to keep the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) satisfied. Chrysler tried to settle with the Waldens, but to no avail. The Waldens had nothing more to lose: Their son was dead and their marriage was dead; now it was time for Chrysler to be exposed.
And exposed they would be by a Bainbridge, Georgia jury a week ago today when the jury awarded one hundred and fifty million dollars and No/00th ($ 150,000,000.00) to the Waldens for the Wrongful Death of their young 4-year old son Remi. The case is Walden v. Chrysler Group, 12CV472. The jury apportioned $ 120 Million Dollars of the verdict for the value of Remi’s life and $ 30 Million Dollars for the young child’s pain and suffering as he died while flames from the vehicle engulfed him and the Jeep in which he was riding. The jury only attributed one percent (1%) of the fault of the accident to the other driver that hit the Jeep from behind, leaving ninety-nine percent (99%) of the fault with Fiat Chrylser.
This case stems from a design defect in said vehicles whereby the gas tank was placed by Chrysler in the rear of said vehicles making the vehicles more vulnerable to an explosion in the event of a rear end crash. The Jeep Grand Cherokee that Remi was riding in had a gas tank that would hang 6 inches from the bottom of the vehicle, and 11 inches from the back of the vehicle causing the gas tank to be punctured in the crash. Although Chrysler disagrees with the verdict, the evidence in this case would show that Chrysler knew of the faulty design and the dangers that this placement of the gas tank could cause and, instead of placing the gas tank at a more central location, kept manufacturing the vehicle with this design.
Chrysler threatens an appeal of this litigation and disagrees that the design is faulty citing that NHTSA supported Chrysler after Chrysler submitted over 20 years of rear impact data for million of vehicles that would lead to the NHTSA’s determination that the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee did not pose an, “unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”
Regardless of the findings of the studies and the alleged support of the NHTSA, it has been shown in this case and others that this design can cause, and has caused, Catastrophic Injury and Death to those riding in said vehicles. The Georgia Jury sent a message to Chrysler loud and clear with this verdict. Other families may now decide not to settle with the manufacturing giant and, if this case stands the test of time, it will set precedent for future litigation of these types of claims.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates our sympathies go out to any family, loved one, or individual who has suffered such a fate due to a design defect or other product liability. Our Personal Injury Lawyers are experts at cases involving Design Defects and Product Liability in tragic Motor Vehicle Accidents and we are here to discuss your case with you anytime.
You may contact us for your Free Legal Consultation by any or all of the following means: By phone at (770) 865-8654, or (813) 363-6664; by email at email@example.com; by the Contact Form on our Website; or by the Contact Form on this blog page.
We look forward to hearing from you soon and discussing the specific details of your case.
Videos (Courtesy of Courtroom View Network) of the trial: