The parents of 8-month-old Joshua Flax filed suit against DaimlerChrysler after their son was killed in a car accident involving their 1998 Dodge Caravan. The wrongful death case centered on the allegedly defective design of the minivan’s front seat backs. Jeremy Flax, et al. v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., et al.
Joshua Flax was in the back seat of the minivan when it was rear-ended. The impact caused the front seat to collapse and its passenger to strike Joshua in the head, fracturing his skull. No other passengers were seriously injured and all parties agreed that Joshua was only fatally injured because of the product liability of the collapsed seat.
In late 2004, a jury found DaimlerChrysler’s seats to be defective and unreasonably dangerous, awarding a total of $105,500,000 to Joshua’s parents. This amount was later reduced, but the verdict was upheld all the way through the Supreme Court.
Evidence showed that the seat in question had been failing crash tests for over 20 years. Since the ’80’s Chrysler had been getting complaints of product defects regarding the seats, mainly that they were collapsing and injuring children. In fact, a former employee testified that he had investigated the seats in the ’90’s because of all the complaints. He was fired after expressing that he wanted to bring the issue to federal regulators.
In its opinion the Supreme Court stated that the evidence showed that not only had Chrysler ignored customer’s warnings and failed to redesign their minivan, but they also hid the evidence. In addition, they marketed their minivan as a vehicle that put safety first.
The minivan has been a symbol of modern American families. When Joshua Flax’s family strapped his car seat in they felt confident in the safety of their minivan. But they found out all too soon the error in their perception was from the deception by Chrysler.
For over 30 years Kreisman Law Offices has been handling product liability cases in Chicago and Cook County and the surrounding area, including Cicero, Barrington, Palos Hills, and Streamwood.
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