Fiat Chrysler loses appeal in Georgia Jeep fire case

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2016 3:47 PM

DETROIT (AP) — A Georgia court has rejected Fiat Chrysler's appeal of a $40 million award to a family whose child who died in a Jeep fire.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled against the company.

Last year a jury awarded $150 million to the family of 4-year-old Remington Walden. He died in 2012 after a Jeep Grand Cherokee he was riding in was hit from behind and burst into flames. The gas tank was mounted behind the rear axle, leaving it vulnerable in a crash.

Decatur County Superior Court Judge J. Kevin Chason reduced the damages to $40 million.

The appeals court ruled against Fiat Chrysler's allegations that Chason abused his judicial discretion at the trial.

Fiat Chrysler says it is considering an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. The company says the crash was caused by a reckless pickup truck driver who hit the Grand Cherokee at a high speed. Fiat Chrysler maintains the Jeep's fuel system met federal safety standards and does not pose an unreasonable safety risk.

At least 75 people have died in post-crash fires involving several Jeep models with rear-mounted gas tanks. The problem led to the recall of 1.56 million Grand Cherokees and Libertys to install trailer hitches to protect the tanks in low-speed crashes.

Last year Fiat Chrysler agreed in a deal with government safety regulators to offer $100 gift cards to entice owners of recalled Jeeps to get the trailer hitch installation. The company also agreed to offer an extra $1,000 for people trading in 1993 to 1998 Grand Cherokees for a new Fiat Chrysler vehicle.