Home Case Results Walden v. Chrysler Group, LLC and Bryan L. Harrell

Products Liability / Auto

4/2/2015 - $150,000,000

Walden v. Chrysler Group, LLC and Bryan L. Harrell; Superior Court of Decatur County, Georgia. On March 6, 2012, 4 ½-year-old Remington Cole Walden burned alive after the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee in which he was riding exploded in flames following a rear impact with a pickup truck driven by Bryan Harrell. The Grand Cherokee had a defective gas tank located in an area Chrysler knew would be crushed in a rear impact—behind the rear axle, only 11 inches from the rear, hanging 6 inches below the bottom of the car. According to the independent medical examiner, Remington was alive for up to one minute in the fire. Remington’s parents sued Mr. Harrell and Chrysler. Mr. Harrell admitted responsibility for the crash. Chrysler denied all responsibility.

At trial, Plaintiffs proved that Chrysler had known for decades about the dangers of that gas tank design. Plaintiffs proved that Chrysler had itself been repeatedly warned by its own customers and its knowledge of real-world wrecks that its rear gas tank design was dangerous in terms of rear impacts. Despite that knowledge, Chrysler sold the Grand Cherokee with a rear gas tank and refused to warn anyone.

The verdict was rendered in less than 90 minutes after a nine-day trial. The jury found that Chrysler had acted with “reckless or wanton disregard for human life” and that it “had a duty to warn and failed to warn of a hazard associated” with the Jeep. The jury also found Mr. Harrell liable. The jury awarded $120 million for the full value of Remington’s life and $30 million for the pain and suffering he experienced before his death. The jury determined that Chrysler was 99% at fault and Mr. Harrell was 1% at fault.

Chrysler had never before stood trial in any rear gas tank lawsuit filed against it, having settled prior lawsuits. Remington’s parents declined to settle. This was the largest product liability verdict in Georgia history and the largest compensatory damages verdict in Georgia history in a personal injury case.

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