NEW YORK (AP) – A jury in Georgia has awarded $150 million to the family of a 4-year-old boy killed when a Jeep Grand Cherokee caught fire after a crash.
Jurors in Decatur County ruled Thursday that Chrysler acted with reckless disregard for human life in selling the boy’s family a 1999 Jeep with a gas tank mounted behind the rear axle.
Remington Walden, of Bainbridge, Georgia, was killed when the Jeep driven by his aunt was hit from behind by a pickup truck in March 2012. The fuel tank leaked, engulfing the Jeep in flames and killing the boy.
Jurors ruled after a seven-day trial that Chrysler was 99 percent at fault for the crash and the pickup driver was 1 percent at fault.
Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, recalled 1.56 million of them in June 2013 under pressure from U.S. safety regulators. The rear-mounted tanks have little structure to protect them if struck from behind, making them susceptible to punctures and fires.
Mike Palese, spokesman for Chrysler parent company FCA US, said the company is disappointed with the verdict and would appeal it. Chrysler, he said, was prevented from presenting data submitted to federal safety regulators showing that the vehicles did not pose an unreasonable safety risk.
“The vehicles are not defective,” Palese said.
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