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Georgia Court of Appeals Affirms Jury Verdict in Product Liability Case

In December of last year, a Georgia appellate court heard a case brought by the parents of a four-year-old boy who was killed after the gas tank in the Jeep Grand Cherokee in which he was a passenger caught fire. In the case, Chrysler Group v. Walden, the court dismissed each of the manufacturer’s claims of error and agreed that Chrysler acted with a “reckless or wanton disregard for human life,” affirming the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Fueling UpThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s four-year-old son, Remington, was a back-seat passenger in his aunt’s Jeep Grand Cherokee when another motorist rear-ended them. As a result of the collision, the Jeep’s gas tank ruptured, and the vehicle caught fire. Remington’s aunt was able to escape the fire herself but was tragically unable to rescue her nephew. He died in the fire.

Remington’s parents filed a product liability case against Chrysler, the manufacturer of the Jeep, arguing that it acted with a “reckless or wanton disregard for human life” in designing, manufacturing, and continuing to sell the vehicle despite its knowledge of the dangers associated with the gas tank’s placement. After a trial, the jury determined that Chrysler was 99% at fault for the accident and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for a total of $150 million. That figure was later reduced to $40 million. Chrysler appealed on several grounds.

On Appeal, the Jury’s Verdict Is Affirmed

Chrysler made several claims of error, including several evidentiary challenges as well as a challenge to the size of the jury’s verdict. Specifically, Chrysler contended that the verdict was so substantial that it was motivated by passion and prejudice, and it was more a product of the jury’s decision to punish the manufacturer than to fairly compensate the plaintiffs.

Ultimately, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict. The court explained that the burden to prove that the verdict was a product of passion or prejudice was on the defendant, and in this case, the defendant failed to meet its burden. Additionally, the court explained that, while the jury’s initial verdict of $150 million may have been excessive, the trial court remitted – or reduced – the jury’s verdict to $40 million, and this final figure was a reasonable one.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia product liability claim. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe when used properly, and they should be held liable when their products harm consumers. The skilled wrongful death attorneys at Miller Legal Services have decades of experience handling product liability cases, as well as all other personal injury cases, and we know what it takes to succeed in Georgia courts. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury attorney at Miller Legal Services.

More Blog Posts:

Injured Georgians May Have a Claim Against an Insurance Company that Acts in Bad Faith, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 6, 2016.

Georgia Appellate Court Discusses Spoliation Doctrine and a Party’s Duty to Preserve Evidence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2017.