The record that FCA—that is, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—has put together recently is not too good. The company’s Jeeps and other SUVs have been on the wrong end of court battles, tragic fires, rollaway deaths, and angry Australians with crowbars and tanks.
Our law firm, along with Butler, Wooten & Peak, recently took FCA to trial for its dangerous rear gas tank design in certain Jeep Grand Cherokees, Cherokees, and Liberties—and we obtained a jury verdict of $150 million. Even though rear impacts are among the most common types of collisions on the roadways, Chrysler had chosen to put the gas tank on these Jeeps in the extreme rear of the vehicle, right next to the bumper and hanging down below the rest of the Jeep. Even Chrysler’s own engineer admitted that the tank was “vulnerable to rear impact.” So when another driver accidentally struck the Jeep Grand Cherokee in which 4-year-old Remington Walden was riding in the rear, the Jeep’s rear-mounted gas tank ruptured and the Jeep burst into flames—taking Remington Walden’s life. Even after the jury returned a verdict of $150 million and apportioned 99% of it to Chrysler, the company still dragged its feet in recalling these dangerous Jeeps.
Butler Tobin gives closing argument in the case of Walden v. Chrysler.
Tank location was not the only problem in Jeep Grand Cherokees. A dangerous gear shifter in later model Grand Cherokees could allow the Jeep to roll away when the driver believed that the Jeep was in “park.” The vehicle was supposed to be recalled, but the Grand Cherokee owned by actor Anton Yelchin wasn’t repaired quickly enough to save his life. Yelchin died when his Grand Cherokee rolled into him, pinning him against a metal fence and mailbox.
Anton Yelchin, who acted in Star Trek and other movies.
Other owners of SUVs manufactured by FCA have become so frustrated with maintenance problems (and possibly safety risks) that they’ve simply destroyed their vehicles—in spectacular fashion. The Australians at www.DestroyMyJeep.com became so fed up with their FCA vehicle that instead of selling the SUV and passing the expensive vehicle along to another consumer, they attacked it with crowbars, sledgehammers, and cranes, then lit it on fire. In another video, the enterprising Aussies—who are raising awareness about the lack of effective lemon laws in Australia—ran over their FCA SUV with a tank. The initial video has gone viral, and as of this writing, it had over 250,000 views on YouTube. Watch it below: