A bankruptcy judge has approved a $24 million auto products liability settlement between Chrysler and the family of Richard Mraz. In 2007, Mraz’s loved ones won a $55 million jury award for the 38-year-old’s wrongful death. DaimlerChrysler, however, appealed the verdict, and the appeal was delayed after the auto manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in April. Negotiations between the automaker and the Mraz family’s auto products liability lawyers ensued, resulting in this new settlement.
Products liability plaintiffs have expressed frustration and worry that
Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceedings would prevent them from recovering
personal injury and wrongful death compensation. The new Chrysler Group
LLC had initially agreed to accept products liability for vehicles that
were manufactured after the bankruptcy but has now agreed to accept older
liabilities for injuries that were sustained after it emerged from bankruptcy
last June. Chrysler auto products liability lawsuits for cases that occurred
prior to the Chapter 11 filing will be limited to the old company’s assets.
The auto products liability lawyers representing Mraz’s family had
insisted that Chrysler post bond during the appeals process, which allowed
for negotiations with the appeal bond issuer to take place.
Mraz, 38, sustained fatal head injuries on April 13, 2004 after he was
run over by the 1992 Dodge Dakota he had been driving moments before the
deadly car accident. His family sued DaimlerChrysler for wrongful death.
They claimed that the “park-to-reverse” defect is what killed Mraz.
Also known as “false park,” the “park to reverse”
defect is a auto part flaw that allows the transmission shift selector
to get stuck in the position between park and reverse while the engine
is running. The slightest movement can cause the shift selector to slip
into reverse and the vehicle can end up moving backwards to strike a pedestrian,
the driver (if he or she steps out of the vehicle), or another vehicle.
DaimlerChrysler had received more than 1,000 auto products liability complaints
over this defect.
Judge OKs $24M Chrysler wrongful death settlement, AP, September 24, 2009
More Chrysler Personal Injury Lawsuits Will Be Recognized by New Company, About Lawsuits, August 31, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Chrysler injury victims protest outside company headquarters, ABC News, July 27, 2009