Chrysler Is Dallying while Its Customers are Dying

The rear crush zone is no place for a gas tank. Anyone with common sense knows that, but inexplicably, Chrysler mounted the gas tanks in its 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokees, and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberties in the rear crush zone anyway–behind the rear axle and in harm’s way. Butler Law Firm’s attorneys have written published articles about this defect.

After rising pressure from the press and government, Chrysler (now owned by Fiat) finally agreed to act–but it was too little, too late. Chrysler offered a “recall” in which it would give free trailer hitches to some people driving these dangerous Jeeps, but leave others out in the cold.  This so-called “recall” wasn’t enough. And yesterday, the the Wall Street Journal and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) revealed that Chrysler is delaying the very “recall” that Chrysler proposed.

As people who have followed this story know, Fiat/Chrysler struck this “recall” deal in a secret, closed-door meeting at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on June 10, 2013. (Chrysler didn’t come forward about the meeting; the press had to uncover it.) Yesterday, NHTSA issued a Special Order to Fiat/Chrysler revealing that it does not plan to actually start the recall until August 1, 2014. That is incredible.

To recap:

  • Occupants of these dangerous Jeeps have been dying in post-collision fires since the 1990s,
  • Chrysler did nothing to warn or help them until press and government pressure forced action in 2013,
  • then all Chrysler did was strike a backroom deal to give some of these at-risk people free trailer hitches,
  • now Chrysler wants to delay providing the hitches for over a year after the backroom deal that it struck, and
  • in the meantime people are dying in these Jeeps.

Never has it been clearer that Fiat/Chrysler puts profit over safety. As the Center for Auto Safety said, “[p]eople are dying and Chrysler is stalling.”

Today, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that casts light on these inexcusable delays. Butler Law Firm salutes the Wall Street Journal for drawing much-needed attention to this issue. The Journal quoted Jeb Butler about the dangers that these Jeeps create and a Jeep case that the firm is litigating along with Butler, Wooten, Cheeley and Peak. The Journal’s article said:

Jeb Butler, an Atlanta-based attorney representing the family of a 4-year-old boy killed in a Jeep fire, said the company’s proposed fix would have done nothing to save the life of his clients’ son.

On March 6, 2012, the boy was in the rear seat of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee, when the car was struck from behind. The fuel tank ruptured, engulfing the back of the car in flames, according to the 2012 complaint.

“The trailer hitch just can’t fix it,” Mr. Butler said. “The flaw is just too big.”

The Grand Cherokee the boy was riding in isn’t subject to the recall, despite an original request from NHTSA that it be included.

Butler Law Firm will continue to fight this issue.