Plaintiffs file response to ‘Chrysler’s’ motion for a retrial

Published 5:30 pm Friday, June 12, 2015

The Plaintiffs in the case Walden v. FCA-US, LLC, formerly known as Chrysler Group, filed a response to FCA’s motion for a new trial Monday, stating in a press release that “FCA’s problem at trial was the fact its product is indefensible.”

A jury in the Decatur County Superior Court found FCA 99 percent guilty in April for the death of 4-year-old Remington Cole Walden. The child was riding in a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2012 when it was rear-ended, causing an exposed gas tank to explode on impact. Walden was unable to escape and passed away inside the burning vehicle.

Plaintiffs Lindsay Newsome Strickland and Bryan Walden, the parents of the deceased child, were awarded $150 million for their loss.

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“Despite the fact FCA killed Remington Walden by fire, and the jury so found, FCA still refuses to accept any responsibility or even express regret to the family and community,” said Plaintiffs’ lawyer Jim Butler.

The plaintiffs response claims FCA’s approach during trial was “mean-spirited, blame-based and disrespectful of the witnesses, the law, and the jurors’ intelligence,” according to the document.

FCA’s original motion claimed that the jury’s verdict is contrary to law, contrary to the evidence, strongly against the weight of the evidence and is the product of improper evidence and argument.

“FCA US continues to express its deepest sympathies to the family of Remi Walden for their tragic loss in a severe crash caused by a reckless pickup truck driver who crashed into the rear of the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee at a high rate of speed,” Michael Palese of FCA said. “It is unfortunate that under Georgia Law the jury was prevented from taking into account extensive data submitted to NHTSA during a three year investigation, which included more than 20 years of rear impact accident data for tens of millions of vehicles.  This and other information provided the basis for NHTSA’s determination that the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee did not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”

The motion also claimed the damage awards of $150 million to the Walden family are unconstitutional.

“If FCA really seeks an explanation for the jury’s conclusions, it should look underneath one of its Jeeps,” the plaintiff’s response reads. “The contrast between that gas tank and ‘absolutely safe’ tells the whole story ofthis case.”

Judge Chason will hear FCA’s “motion for new trial” on July 14 at 1:15 p.m. in Decatur County Superior Court in Bainbridge.