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Why Do Corporations Refuse to Admit When They’re Wrong?

The evidence is piling up. There have been admissions, crash tests, government investigations, recalls, and even a jury verdict. All of that evidence proves that the Jeeps with rear gas tanks, which can explode when they’re hit in the rear, are deadly-dangerous. Yet the manufacturer of the Jeeps—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“FCA”)—refuses to admit the obvious truth: these vehicles are defective.

The evidence is overwhelming:

  • The gas tanks are located only 11 inches from the rear of the Jeeps, and hang down 6 inches.
  • That is in the crush zone.
  • FCA’s own engineer (Judson Estes) admitted under oath that the gas tanks were “vulnerable to rear impact.”
  • The federal government reports that it has found 75 deaths and 58 injuries caused by these rear tanks.
  • Independent safety advocates say that there are many more.
  • The federal government launched an investigation into these Jeeps.
  • Following the investigation, FCA had to conduct a recall.
  • FCA dragged its feet on the recall, and two years later the overwhelming majority of the defective Jeeps are still on the road.
  • Some Jeep owners, like Kayla White, tried to take their Jeeps in to get fixed—only to have the dealer tell them that there weren’t enough parts to fix the Jeep. Weeks later, Kayla White burned to death in the Jeep that FCA’s dealer refused to fix.
  • Now the federal government is angry at FCA for its delays, and has even set a Congressional hearing for July 2, 2015.
  • Even if FCA does perform the recall it proposed—i.e., put tow packages on some of the Jeeps—its own former executive (Francois Castaing) has admitted under oath that it won’t “protect the tank.”
  • The rear-tank Jeeps failed internal crash tests.
  • After hearing nearly two weeks of evidence, a jury concluded that FCA “acted with a wanton and reckless disregard for human life” in selling the Jeeps.
  • That same jury returned a $150 million verdict.
  • It has now been discovered that during that trial, FCA wrongfully concealed incriminating emails about the deal it had tried to strike with the government over the recall.
  • Last week, FCA admitted that it has been buying back some of the defective Jeeps at auctions in order to get them “off the streets.”

Incredibly, after all that, FCA still refuses to admit that these Jeeps are defective. Instead, FCA has repeatedly told the American public that these Jeeps are “absolutely safe.” That’s the same thing that FCA told the jury in the Georgia trial of Walden v. FCA—right before the jury entered a $150 million verdict against it.

Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of FCA, admits under oath that he wanted the American people to believe that the rear-tank Jeeps were "absolutely safe."
Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of FCA, admitted under oath that he wanted the American people to believe that the rear-tank Jeeps were “absolutely safe.”

Instead of admitting responsibility, FCA has done the opposite. Last month in Walden v. Chrysler, FCA filed a formal pleading that asked the Court for a “new trial.” In that filing, FCA accused the jury of acting out of “prejudice,” accused the Court of failing to give the jury “meaningful guidance,” and accused the lawyers representing the deceased child’s family (including Butler Kahn) of trying to “stir up bias.” In short, FCA blamed everyone but itself.

The truth is much simpler: FCA is just wrong. Wrong to sell these Jeeps, wrong not to recall them, and wrong to mislead the public by calling them “absolutely safe.”

FCA should admit the truth. It has done enough lying already.

Picture of Matt Kahn
Matt Kahn is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and a partner at the law firm Butler Kahn. Matt has dedicated his career to fighting for individuals and families who had been harmed by the negligence of others. At Butler Kahn, he has had the honor of helping families who have lost children in motor vehicle accidents and people who were critically injured. He helped a family secure a $45 million settlement to provide lifetime care for their son, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star and by Best Lawyers as One to Watch. He has received an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney rating. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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