DaimlerChrysler Seeks $277,000 From Parents of Daughter Killed by Airbag
Consumer Groups Call on CEO Juergen Schrempp to Withdraw Mean Spirited Legal Action
The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Public Citizen and the Consumer Federation of American on Christmas Eve called on Daimler Chrysler Chairman Juergen Schrempp to drop a court action seeking an award of $277,366 against Elizabeth and Robert Sanders whose 7-year old daughter Alison was killed by an airbag in a 9.3 mph velocity change crash in a 1995 Chrysler minivan. The groups called this a "mean spirited and vindictive action" intended to bankrupt a
family who dared sue DaimlerChrysler and who founded Parents For Safer Airbags to prevent similar tragedies from striking other parents.
The groups asked Mr. Schrempp:
On the eve of Christmas, a time for forgiveness, we call to your attention a mean spirited act by DaimlerChrysler that seeks to punish and bankrupt a family for suing over the death of their daughter. Corporations have no souls or value judgments beyond the pursuit of profits. But its leaders do. As the Chief Executive Officer of DaimlerChrysler, we call on you to show compassion for the Sanders family and drop the court action. The Sanders family has suffered enough.
CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow stated:
Mr. Schrempp should take a lesson from Charles Dickens’ Scrooge who reformed at Christmas and gave up his relentless pursuit of profits because of Tiny Tim. Mr. Schrempp has his opportunity to reform for the sake of Alison Sanders or he may one day face the ghost of Christmas past.
December 22, 2000
Juergen E. Schrempp, Chairman
70546 Stuttgart, Germany
Dear Mr. Schrempp:
On the eve of Christmas, a time for forgiveness, we call to your attention a mean spirited act by DaimlerChrysler that seeks to punish and bankrupt a family for suing over the death of their daughter. We are most distressed by this vindictive action against a mother and father who suffered the most grievous loss of all, the death of a child.
On October 15, 1995, 7-year old Alison Sanders was killed by the airbag in her father’s 1995 Dodge Caravan in a 9.3-mph velocity change crash which she would have survived if the airbag had not deployed. Her parents, Elizabeth and Robert Sanders, sued DaimlerChrysler in its home court in Michigan and lost. Rather than being content with a legal victory, DaimlerChrysler submitted a bill of costs for $574,341.65, of which only $492.60 were for court costs, the astounding remainder of $573,649.05 was for expert witness fees at hourly rates up to $500. The Sanders family objected and DaimlerChrysler lowered the demand to $277,366.16, still more than enough to bankrupt the family.
On November 13, 2000, Judge Louis Simmons reduced the award for expert witnesses to $12,150. Incredibly, DaimlerChrysler appealed the decision on December 4, 2000 in its relentless pursuit of vengeance against the Sanders family who dared sue over the death of their daughter and who founded Parents for Safer Airbags to prevent other families from suffering the loss of a child due to a defectively designed airbag system.
Corporations have no souls or value judgments beyond the pursuit of profits. But its leaders do. As the Chief Executive Officer of DaimlerChrysler, we call on you to show compassion for the Sanders family and not only drop the appeal but to forgive the $12,150 award. The Sanders family has suffered enough.
Center for Auto Safety
Consumer Federation of America