While the Georgia Supreme Court justices were reading five amicus briefs in support of Chrysler asking them to toss a $40 million judgment for an exploding Jeep gas tank, they also saw one from the other side.
The Center for Auto Safety wrote an amicus brief in support of the family of Remington Walden, the 4-year-old boy killed after his aunt’s Jeep was hit from behind by a pickup truck. The two drivers stepped out unharmed. But the Jeep burst into flames before Remi could be rescued from his car seat.
Matthew Stoddard of the Stoddard Firm in Atlanta signed the brief for the Center for Auto Safety, known as CAS, founded in 1970. The group filed a defect investigation petition in 2009 with the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration on the gas tank in question in this case, Stoddard’s brief said.
“When CAS filed that petition, Remington Walden was alive,” Stoddard wrote. “Had our petition resulted in a timely recall, he would still be alive. Instead, he burned to death at the age of four in a vehicle that should have been designed for his protection.”
Stoddard said that politically appointed leaders at NHST decided not to recall the gas tank at issue after meeting with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. The safety group took issue with Chrysler’s primary defense at trial–that the Jeep was not dangerous–“despite the fact its gas tank location was just like that of the other Jeep models that were recalled.”