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Injured Ask FTC For Warning on Used Chrysler Cars

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 11:38 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Chrysler, Product Liability, Auto Accidents, Defective Vehicles

Lily Stellanger was killed when a Chrysler front seat collapsed on her head in April 2007.
Lilly Stellanger, died in Chrysler vehicle, April 2007

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Used Chryslers should come with a skull and crossbones to let consumers know the compay will not cover injuries from defective cars, say consumer groups.

IMAGE SOURCE: Skull Crossbones on letter of Patricia Robb Warriner to Chrysler 

IMAGE SOURCE: Lily Stellanger, killed when front seat of Chrysler car collapsed backward on her head in rear-end collision, April 2007, Center for Justice & Democracy report

Scott M. Stuart is on the board of New Chrysler.

IMAGE SOURCE: Scott M. Stuart- Stanford Graduate School of Business Web site

James Blanchard is on Board of Directors of New Chrysler.

IMAGE SOURCE: James Blanchard, DLA Piper Web site

Skull and Crossbones

Nine consumer groups have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) asking that a skull and crossbones sticker be put on used Chrysler automobiles to warn prospective customers that the manufacturer will not assume liability for any injuries or death.

The nine groups including Consumers Union, and the Center for Auto Safety.

Chrysler was absolved of any defective product liability claims following its sale to Italian automaker, Fiat, and its April filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The deal allowed Chrysler to unload assets such as factories and franchise agreements, as well as pending claims by about 300 consumers or their survivors who were injured or killed in defective Chrysler vehicles.

On May 30, 2009, when Chrysler became the “New Chrysler” it was absolved of liability for future claims from consumers riding in approximately 30 million used Chryslers still on the road.

Chryslers have had a host of problems that consumers need to be warned about, according to the petition including, but not limited to:

* Collapsing seat backs – The defect exists in over 10 million vehicles model years 1990 to 2009.

* SUVs with collapsing roofs – Since 1994, Chrysler has produced over two million Grand Cherokee SUV with roofs that tend to buckle or cave in, resulting in traumatic head injuries and paralysis.

* Tailgate Latch failures – Minivan tailgates flew open resulting in 40 deaths, many of them children, yet only half of the 4.1 minivans were repaired

* Jeep Grand Cherokee – Fuel Tanks mounted to the rear of the axle tend to explode during collisions. Fire deaths are a danger posed by approximately three million vehicles 1993 to 2004.

Other problems recorded by Chrysler vehicles include shifting gears out of park, and seat belts that were prone to open.  

The consumer groups point out that consumers are in the dark about the defects and need to be warned of the risk of injury and death.  Under the 1984 Used Car Rule, full disclosure about the dealer’s warranty should be provided to prospective buyers to prevent oral misrepresentation and unfair omissions of material facts by used car dealers.

A report issued in June by the advocacy group, Safety Research and Strategies Inc., using federal data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, predicted more than 3,400 Americans will be injured or killed by defective GM or Chrysler cars in the first year post-bankruptcy.

Letters to Board of Directors 

And in separate letters to Chrysler’s Board of Directors by people injured by Chrysler vehicles, the board is asked if they would, “Let your son, daughter, or other family member drive one of these potentially dangerous cars knowing that they would be left unprotected if a defect caused them harm?”

In addition, the Chrysler victims sent a video from a crash involving a 1996 Dodge Caravan showing the seat collapsing backward causing the head of the driver to crush the skull of the child in the back seat, not unlike what happened to five-year-old Lily Stellanger, who died in April 2007.

In presenting the crash footage, the victims wrote, “You can plainly see why we are concerned and why consumers deserve to know what the risks are of purchasing a used Chrysler car manufactured prior to the bankruptcy.”

According to the Center for Justice & Democracy, Chrysler victims who sent letters include Bradley Catalano and Christina Catalano, whose mother, Linda Catalano, was killed when a Chrysler minivan “self-shifted” into reverse, dragging her under the car; Michael McCauley, whose daughter lost her grandmother, Linda Catalano in that accident; Joshua S Stellanger, whose five year old daughter, Lily, was killed when their Chrysler experienced “seat back failure” after being rear-ended, resulting in their seat collapsing and crushing Lily; and Robb and Patricia Warriner, the parents of Jeremy Warriner, whose legs were so badly burned by a fire in a Chrysler vehicle that they had to be amputated.

The new Chrysler Board members who received the package of information include: Governor James J. Blanchard, Alfredo Altavilla, C. Robert Kidder, George F.J. Gosbee, Sergio Marchionne, Douglas Steenland, Scott Stuart, Ronald L. Thompson, and Stephen Wolf.

IB News called Scott M. Stuart and James Blanchard Tuesday to get reaction to the petition and letters. We will post their response when they reply.

In testimony in the bankruptcy hearing for Chrysler last May, CEO Bob Nardelli admitted those individuals injured with claims would have to turn to the bankrupt Old Chrysler.

Will the bad publicity hurt sales of used Chryslers? he was asked.

“Consumers might be willing to take the risk if it had an attractive price on it,” said Nardelli. #


3 Comments

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 10:33 AM EST

All-

What exactly do you tell your friend who drives a Chrysler? What do you tell them when your child is in the car?

Any thoughts!?

Posted by Paul V. Sheridan
Thursday, August 27, 2009 11:08 PM EST

Jane:

Before I answer your question, please take the time to read this letter:

LINK

This is a LARGE file, please be patient. You may wish to save.

Please note page '6 of 10,' "Color Tab', Page 6 under Tab 3, Tab 11, last two pages of Tab 16, third page of Tab 18, Tab 21 and Tab 27.

I testified to these facts in the death case of Flax v DaimlerChrysler. Please "Manager Later Fired" section here:

LINK

You may also want to watch my interview in Miami on seatback issue here:

LINK

FYI:

LINK

Paul Sheridan
pvsheridan@comcast.net
---

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, August 28, 2009 9:32 PM EST

I encourage everyone to read Paul's links above. I particularly enjoyed his deposition, brief as it was. It takes a special person to speak out to power- thank you!!!

Comments for this article are closed.

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