A Georgia jury awarded $150 million to the family of a four-year-old boy killed when the 1999 Grand Cherokee Jeep he was riding in exploded after it was rear-ended by a pickup truck.
The Jeep's fuel tank was in the back, apparently with little protection around it. So, when the Jeep was hit, the fuel tank blew up.
Chrysler has issued a statement saying it was disappointed, and would consider an appeal.
But that could be difficult because the jury based the penalty partly on the value of the boy’s life.
“I think it’ll be an uphill fight for Chrysler," says Carl Tobias, a professor of product liability law at the University of Richmond. "What’s more likely is they may threaten to appeal and then maybe settle at some lower figure than the amount the jury brought in yesterday.”
Tobias also says people who were involved in Jeep accidents may re-evaluate lawsuits against Chrysler, since they’re now more aware of the apparent problems with these rear fuel tanks.
“They may be encouraged to sue where they weren’t before or may learn that their accident was caused by some defect in the vehicle," he says.
But Chrysler says the Georgia jury was prevented from taking into account data that Chrysler says shows that the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee does not “pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”