Remington Walden Jeep Crash Verdict Upheld by Judge

Judge refuses to throw out Remington Walden jury verdict, but does lower damages to $40 million.

Posted in News

— The Remington Walden Jeep crash that caused the fiery death of the 4-year-old boy will cost Fiat Chrysler $40 million, that's according to the judge overseeing a lawsuit about Remington's death.

Remington Walden was killed in 2012 while riding in a booster seat in the back of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was struck from behind by a Dodge Dakota. The Jeep gas tank leaked and engulfed Remington in flames while witnesses could only watch in shocked disbelief.

A subsequent wrongful death lawsuit was filed accusing Chrysler of manufacturing the Jeep with a deadly design defect with the location of the gas tank. The tank is located behind the rear axle, a problem that caused Chrysler to recall 1.5 million Jeeps to install a trailer hitch to provide more protection in rear-end crashes. Years later, many of those Jeeps still need repaired.

Fiat Chrysler came up short after the jury said the automaker acted with a “reckless or wanton disregard for human life” and failed in its duty to warn customers about the dangers of the Jeep SUVs. The jury awarded $150 million to Remi's family, an amount Chrysler called "stunning" and "grossly excessive."

The automaker filed a motion to dismiss but Judge J. Kevin Chason of South Georgia Circuit Superior Court ruled against Fiat Chrysler in its bid. The judge said the court heard all the evidence and found it overwhelmingly against Fiat Chrysler.

Although the automaker argued the jury made its decision based on "prejudice" against Chrysler, the judge said that assertion was without merit.

Calling the charge by the jury "complete, accurate, and fair," the the judge did lower the original $150 million award to $40 million after Remington's parents agreed to accept that amount. For its part, Fiat Chrysler hasn't agreed to the deal.

It's not good news for an automaker that just learned it will pay up to $105 million for violating the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. In addition to the millions in fines, Fiat Chrysler must also offer to buy back nearly 200,000 trucks and SUVs with suspension problems.

The automaker will also be forced to take action on more than 1 million Jeeps with gas tanks at risk of exploding into flames. Those Jeep owners will have the chance to trade-in their SUVs above market value or receive a financial incentive to get their Jeeps fixed.