Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lawsuit over child’s death in recalled Jeep might spark another recall.

Bloomberg News (3/24, Larson, Fisk, 2.94M) reports in a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat-Chrysler involving a rear-end crash of 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that burned to death a four-year boy in Georgia. The story says a preliminary finding by NHTSA “sought a mandatory recall of 2.7 million Jeeps whose tanks were located less than a foot from the back bumper.” Bloomberg News says at the time NHTSA indicated that by “locating the gasoline tank between the axle and the bumper, rather than in front of the axle, the company made the vehicles less safe.” The story adds Fiat-Chrysler “voluntarily added tow hitches to about 1.5 million vehicles” and NHTSA accepted the automaker’s fix and closed the investigation. Bloomberg News adds that Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, said he would “use any verdict against the company in court to try to force NHTSA to reopen the investigation or expand the recall.”

        The Detroit News (3/24, Shepardson, 577K) reports that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of the Jeep SUVs recalled. However, the story notes that NHTSA indicated that the Jeeps “were among the few vehicles on the roads with gas tanks in the rear of the vehicles.” NHTSA also criticized Chrysler for the “slow pace of fixes” and has acknowledged that the tow hitch solution “will not offer much protection in high-speed crashes.” 

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