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Greg Webb
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Chrysler-Fiat to Be Immune from Liability for Certain Defective Automobiles

8 comments

When bankruptcy Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez approved the sale of most of Chrysler’s assets to a new company run by Fiat, he also granted the request that the new company not face liability for future product-liability problems involving current Chrysler owners. This leaves owners of Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicles without the right to sue if they are injured by a safety defect.

Fiat argued in court filings that it was unfair to burden it with financial obligations from the original Chrysler. Chrysler’s CEO, Robert L. Nardelli, testified during the bankruptcy hearing that the idea of not allowing current owners to sue the Fiat-owned company came up during discussions between the Treasury and Fiat.

Consumer groups, including Public Citizen, the Center for Auto Safety, and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, have objected, saying that granting the request deprives consumers of their rights. Judge Gonzalez dismissed the objection, but an attorney for the groups reports that they plan to appeal. The consumer groups are also concerned about individuals injured in accidents who have already filed suit alleging safety defects in Chrysler vehicles. Even if they win in court, those people have very little chance of recovering from the automaker after Chrysler’s debts are settled.

Law professors have expressed reservations as to whether the bankruptcy judge’s can remove an owner’s future legal rights without due process. Many citizens may support this law, at least at first glance, given Chrysler’s precarious position. But, if one’s loved one suffered serious injury or death because of a defective Chrysler vehicle, one may feel a bit differently about the law. Should a company be granted immunity from responsibility for building a defective product because of its financial status?

8 Comments

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  1. Rob says:
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    Who cares. It is a fake car company, fake bankruptcy, fake bank GMAC. STUPID bailouts and we taxpayers loose billions and billions. All this mess, then real bankruptcy begin. Fraud, illegal moves and lobbiest(bribes).

  2. vicky says:
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    To Rob,

    I care. I care very much. The taxpayers hurt the most in the bailout are the very American consumers who purchased one of these vehicles and have already pursued a case against Chrysler. My father paid in blood with his life and now we are being told that we have been dropped to the bottom of the heap along with other unsecured creditors in the Chrysler bankruptcy. My parents were in an accident two years ago. It was not their fault. The jeep rolled over one and a half times and the A pillars supporting the roof of the driver’s side occupancy of my parents’ jeep collapsed, splitting my father’s head open and crushing him to death. My mother was left hanging upside down along side of him and could see nothing but my father’s arm dangling. My brother ended up crawling around inside of that bloody jeep, coated in my father’s blood to get their effects. While inside, he found part of my father’s ear. You cannot begin to imagine the nightmare we’ve lived in all of this and now we may be denied any justice at all for a death that should have never happened.This may be nothing to you, but it is for many of us. It has forever changed our lives, particularly my Mother. This year they should have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Instead, she did as we have been doing for two years now on holidays…she went to the cemetery. I can only hope and pray that none of your loved ones suffer the pain that mine has and still is suffering. Perhaps then you would care.

  3. Greg Webb says:
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    Vicky,

    Your comments are exactly what I was referring to in the blog above. I have represented families who have had similar tragedies involving automobile defects, and I know the impact that is caused. Many people do not realize that one of the reasons cars are as safe as they are today (seat belts, airbags, padded dashes, etc.) is because of litigation and being able to hold the manufacturers responsible in a court of law, where a single individual can take on a large company on a somewhat equal footing. Thank you for your comments. I am sorry about what you and your family have gone through.

    Greg Webb

  4. Vicky says:
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    Thank you for your kind words and condolences, Mr. Webb. My family and I appreciate it very much. As you are aware having represented families such as ours, it is a very difficult journey; a journey now marred in more grief because of the current circumstances with the Chrysler bankruptcy, rulings etc. We are continuing to fight for justice for my family and for other families likes ours who have suffered so greatly in all of this. We also are fighting for those who do not realize they, too, may one day be walking in our shoes and have no legal recourse to hold these companies accountable. Ours is a cause worth fighting. Thanks for all you’re doing to make a difference for folks like us.

    Warm regards,
    Vicky

  5. JILL PAUL RN says:
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    Greg, my condolences to Vicky and her family. How awful!!! However, we too are unable to have our day in court. Just like the owners of Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep vehicles – owners who are left without the rights to sue if they are injured by a safety defect or malfunction, we are in the same “boat”. Try, faulty medical devices where one was forced to have something implanted due to deteriorating health conditions or an alternative to fixing a chronic problem. I don’t mean to minimize the defective car issue, but did we have a choice? NO!!! Does a defective car take precedence over a permanetly implanted faulty medical device that one has to live with 24/7? We don’t have rights either due to pre-emption. Our rights as US citizens should be heard in Congress and the Senate and we should all work together to make this happen. Any of you who have been injured by a consumer product including a medical device, should write to their Congressman/Women and Senators to solicit their support on this important issue. As aggrieved US citizens, we deserve our day in court. Thank you, Greg.

  6. Greg Webb says:
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    Jill,

    I am aware of the issue with medical device preemption, and I could not possibly agree with you more. Hopefully, we can work to enact a new law. See my previous post regarding the medical device safety act, which I hope would be a step in the right direction.

    I wish you and your family the best.

    Greg

  7. Greg Webb says:
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    Jill,

    I am aware of the issue with medical device preemption, and I could not possibly agree with you more. Hopefully, we can work to enact a new law. See my previous post regarding the medical device safety act, which I hope would be a step in the right direction.

    I wish you and your family the best.

    Greg

  8. Greg Webb says:
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    Jill,

    I am aware of the issue with medical device preemption, and I could not possibly agree with you more. Hopefully, we can work to enact a new law. See my previous post regarding the medical device safety act, which I hope would be a step in the right direction.

    I wish you and your family the best.

    Greg