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FCA appealing Georgia verdict

by Bill Cawthon on

According to the Wall Street Journal, Fiat Chrysler has filed an appeal of a wrongful death verdict in the case of a Georgia boy killed when the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee in which he was riding was rear-ended at high speed and caught fire.

In the April trial, the jury ordered FCA to pay the parents of Remington Walden $150 million, which was cut to $40 million by the trial judge last month.


The FCA filing says lawyers for the Walden family prejudiced the jury by discussing the income of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and insinuating that the CEO should have been imprisoned, instead of the driver of the Ram pickup who caused the collision.

The driver of the pickup was sentenced to eight years in a Georgia penitentiary for involuntary manslaughter.

FCA contends that the award was excessive, and that the company was not allowed to present evidence showing that other vehicles had a higher rate of post-collision fires than the 1999 Grand Cherokee. The Jeep had already been declared safe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The appeal seeks either a new trial or a reduction of the award to $5 million.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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