Jeep Grand Cherokee with Rear Tank Explodes & Burns in Cincinnati, Ohio

A Jeep Liberty with a rear-mounted gas tank burns after a rear impact in West Virginia.

It has happened again.  Another person has died by fire as a result of the defective gas tank location on the Jeep Grand Cherokees.  On Thursday, August 12, 2021 a Jeep Grand Cherokee exploded after being struck in the rear in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was pronounced dead by the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office, according to The Enquirer, a Cincinnati news source.

This is the third person who burned to death in a rear-tank Jeep in the last few years in Ohio alone.  Other victims included Ms. Vicki Hill of Elyria, Ohio.  This time, the victim was in a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which shared the same defective rear-tank design as the 2004 Jeep Liberty in which our former client’s wife died in Hamilton and the 2007 Jeep Liberty in which Ms. Hill died in Elyria.  All of the victims died in the fires after their Jeeps exploded.

On August 13, a man was driving his 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee on I-75 near Hopple Street when another driver struck his Jeep in the rear.  “The Jeep caught fire and became engulfed in flames,” police said.  “The driver was unable to escape and was pronounced deceased at the scene.”


Defective Gas Tank Location in Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Liberty

Many, many people have died in fires in the Jeep Grand Cherokees, Jeep Cherokees, and Jeep Liberties with rear-mounted gas tanks.  The fact pattern is tragically predictable – the Jeep is struck in the rear, the plastic gas tank ruptures, gasoline spills, and a spark from the impact lights the gasoline on fire.  The Jeep burns and often explodes, and if someone inside the Jeep isn’t able to get out, the consequences are horrible.

Our firm has handled a number of cases arising out of the defective rear-tank Jeeps, including the only such case known to have gone to a jury trial in which we helped our client win a $150,000,000 verdict.  We also handled a case arising out of an exploding Jeep in Hamilton, Ohio that was resolved by settlement in February of 2020.  The 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokees, and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberties all share the same defect – the gas tank is right next to the rear bumper.  If that sounds like an obvious problem – well, it is.  When automotive manufacturers decide where to put a gas tank, “next to the rear bumper” isn’t a good choice.

Recall of Exploding Jeeps

The manufacturer of Jeeps, FCA (which stands for “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has even been forced to recall these exploding Jeeps.  Following pressure from nonprofits, safety advocates, customers, victims, lawyers, and media, FCA finally agreed to conduct a recall of at least some of the rear-tank Jeeps. But this would not be an ordinary recall.

In 2013, FCA’s Chairman and CEO, Sergio Marchionne — who repeatedly told the public that these Jeeps were “absolutely safe” — arranged a private meeting with top federal officials to discuss the recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) had already written FCA a letter requesting a recall and announcing that the Jeeps with rear gas tanks contained “defects related to motor vehicle safety.” Marchionne wanted to see that investigation stopped.

So Marchionne flew from his home in Switzerland to Chicago, where he met in private with the United States Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and the National Highway NHTSA’s Administrator, David Strickland. Nobody else was at the meeting. No agency staff or engineers were there. There were no safety advocates, customers, victims in the meeting. The media was not told about the meeting. Marchionne later claimed that no notes were kept

The three men reached a deal. FCA would invite Jeep owners to bring their Jeeps into a dealership and, if the Jeep didn’t already have an original trailer hitch on it, FCA would give the customer a trailer hitch for free. In return, the government agreed to drop the investigation.  In our opinion, this was a cheap fix that left Jeep owners at risk.

Jeep Fire Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been harmed by these defective rear-tank Jeeps, give us a call.  We’ve learned a lot about these Jeeps over the years.  The conversation is free.  In Jeep fire cases, as in the other cases we handle, we charge no fee unless (and until) we win the case for our client.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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