All businesses are looking for ways to save money and increase their profits, but it’s never acceptable to skimp on safety. Unfortunately, there’s a long history of major automakers resisting recalls and denying responsibility for vehicle defects, even when it was clear that these defects have injured and killed many people.
One of the most disgraceful episodes in US automaking history is the exploding Jeep gas tanks made by Chrysler Corporation that caused at least 487 deaths in 349 fatal crashes. The company, now called Fiat Chrysler America (FCA), has never accepted responsibility for the negligence that led to so much pain and misery for so many people.
In 2015, Butler Prather LLP won a major lawsuit on behalf of a family whose four-year-old son was killed when their Jeep Grand Cherokee was rear-ended. The jury found FCA to be 99 percent responsible for the boy’s death due to the defective placement and design of the vehicle’s gas tank.
There are still millions of unsafe Jeep Liberties, Jeep Cherokees, and Jeep Grand Cherokees on the road. If you or a loved one has suffered death or severe injuries due to a Jeep Cherokee gas tank explosion, contact Butler Prather LLP today by calling (706) 322-1990.
Our litigators have won over a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients in over 30 states. We’ve won nine verdicts exceeding $100 million and more than 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.
Chrysler made a really bad decision when they designed the Jeep Cherokee by mounting the fuel tank hanging low beneath the rear bumper. The gas tank, which is made of plastic, is likely to rupture and explode when a rear-end collision occurs.
The design of these vehicles is so bad that it’s been compared to the notorious Ford Pinto of the 1970s, but sadly, many more people have been killed and injured by Jeep gas tank fires than by the so-called “exploding Pintos.”
For over 20 years, Chrysler officials vehemently denied any problem with the gas tank design, maintaining that speeding drivers were responsible for the fatal vehicle fires. This line of argument was repeatedly proved false by low-speed collisions that resulted in fires and fatalities.
A Georgia jury found FCA had acted with “reckless and wanton” disregard when the Walden family of Decatur County, Georgia, lost their son in a fiery explosion after the Jeep Cherokee they were traveling in was struck from behind. That lawsuit was successfully litigated by Butler Prather LLP.
The following models of Chrysler Jeep SUVs were built with faulty gas tanks:
For years, Chrysler officials maintained that there were no problems with the placement of their Jeep gas tanks. Even when an investigation conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found higher than average fatality rates for rear-end crashes involving these vehicles, Chrysler continued to stonewall and resisted calls to reposition the gas tanks.
After years of mounting pressure from regulators and consumer advocates, transportation secretary Ray LaHood met with top Chrysler officials and convinced them to conduct a partial recall. However, this recall did not address the underlying problem.
Former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrooke told CBS News there was a secret deal between Secretary LaHood and Chrysler officials: “Chrysler had refused, refused, refused to ever do a recall of these vehicles. They knew they had a problem, and so they wanted to do the cheapest thing that they could do.”
The “cheap thing” they chose to do was to leave the gas tank where it was and provide Jeep owners with a trailer hitch that was supposed to protect the defective tanks from rear-end collisions. At the time, safety experts argued that the new trailer hitch would not solve the problem. Even Chrysler engineer François Castaing maintained that the recall was an inadequate solution, saying: “A tow package does not protect the gas tank.”
Eventually, 1.56 million Jeeps were fitted with new hitches, but most Jeep vehicles with unsafe gas tanks were never subject to any type of recall. Federal regulators later fined FCA $105 million for failing to fix the defective gas tanks on millions of Jeep vehicles.
Even though they knew there were serious problems with the placement of their gas tanks, Chrysler continued to build Jeeps with gas tanks that were behind the back axle until 2007. The company stubbornly refused to accept accountability and make life-saving changes to its production methods. This refusal is part of a longstanding pattern of unacceptable behavior by FCA bosses.
FCA has been the subject of several defects and recalls over the years, including the following models:
In addition to faulty Jeep fuel tanks, FCA has been responsible for countless instances of defective parts in their vehicles, including problems with:
For over 35 years, the Georgia personal injury lawyers at Butler Prather LLP have been helping consumers by taking the big automakers to court to protect American drivers and their passengers. During this time, we’ve won landmark cases that hold wrongdoers accountable for the injuries they cause.
At Butler Prather LLP, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of you and your loved ones. Our attorneys hold greedy businesses accountable when their wrong priorities put people in harm’s way.
If you or someone you know was injured due to a defective car, truck, or SUV, call (706) 322-1990 to schedule a complimentary consultation with Butler Prather LLP today.
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