NEW YORK - A jury in Georgia has awarded $150 million to the family of a 4-year-old boy killed when a Jeep Grand Cherokee exploded into flames three years ago after being rear-ended. The jury said Chrysler, the maker of Jeeps, must pay nearly the full amount.
Jurors in Decatur County ruled Thursday that Chrysler acted with reckless disregard for human life in selling the family of Remington "Remi" Walden a 1999 Jeep with a gas tank mounted behind the rear axle.
Remi, of Bainbridge, Ga., was killed when the Jeep driven by his aunt was hit from behind by a pickup truck in March 2012. The fuel tank leaked, engulfing the Jeep in flames and killing the boy.
The verdict comes nearly two years after Chrysler agreed to a scaled-down recall of some older-model Jeeps with the rear-mounted tanks. The tanks have little structure to protect them if struck from behind, making them susceptible to punctures and fires.
Federal documents show that at least 75 people have died in post-crash fires because of the rear-mounted fuel tanks.
The 11-woman, one-man jury ruled after a nine-day trial that Chrysler was 99 percent at fault for the crash, and the pickup driver was 1 percent at fault. Jurors also determined that Chrysler failed to warn the family of the hazards of driving the Jeep. They ruled that the Waldens should get $30 million for Remi's pain and suffering and $120 million for the full value of his life, according to a verdict form.
Mike Palese, spokesman for Chrysler parent company FCA US, said the company is disappointed with the verdict and would appeal.