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Fiat Chrysler found liable for boy's death in car fire

A jury in Georgia ordered Fiat Chrysler to pay $150 million to the family of a 4-year-old boy who was killed in a fiery accident. In March 2012, the boy was a passenger in a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was rear-ended by a pickup truck. The Jeep burst into flames after a fuel tank that was mounted behind its rear axle was punctured in the collision.

Fiat Chrysler attempted to have the wrongful death lawsuit retried, but a judge denied the motion. According to the judge, the evidence against Fiat was overwhelming. Although the judge denied the request for a retrial, he did reduce the family's damage award to $40 million. The boy's parents agreed to this condition, but Fiat has not yet agreed to the deal.

A spokesman for Fiat told CBS News that the car manufacturer was not given a fair trial. The spokesman said that the reduction in the damage award does not take away the fact that there were many errors that tainted the jury's verdict in the case. Just two days before the judge denied Fiat's motion, the vehicle manufacturer was fined $105 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to execute 23 different recalls. One of those recalls concerned rear-mounted gas tanks on older Jeep models that were considered fire hazards.

A defective vehicle part can sometimes be the main factor in a car accident. In other cases, one can make an accident more serious than it would have been. A lawyer may be able to help a family that has lost a loved one in an accident caused by a defective vehicle part to file a wrongful death claim.

Source: CBS News, "Fiat Chrysler denied retrial in boy's Jeep fire death," Megan Towey, July 29, 2015

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