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.
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.