— A 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan power window allegedly left a young girl a quadriplegic who requires care and support around the clock.
According to the parents who filed the lawsuit, in November 2016, then three-year-old "I.D." was "catastrophically asphyxiated" by the power window of her grandmother’s 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
Her parents claim their child would have never been harmed if the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country power window had been equipped with an auto-reverse child safety protection feature.
The plaintiffs (parents) allege the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country front passenger switch has a dangerous and defective window rocker switch easy for children to inadvertently activate.
The plaintiffs seek damages, costs and an injunction requiring Chrysler to warn owners of 2005 Town & Country minivans “regarding the power window’s lack of auto reverse and the windows’ related choking hazards to young children.”
Chrysler argues the plaintiffs cannot prove the allegedly defective power windows caused I.D.’s injury and point to the testimony of I.D.’s grandmother who was in the driver’s seat when I.D. was injured.
According to the grandmother, she did not see I.D. touch the window switch, and a police photo of the window showed a smudge mark and a line attributed to drool. The automaker says this suggests I.D. was positioned too far from the window switch to have touched it.
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) also argues security footage indicates the grandmother, "in a matter of ~3 seconds, approaches the passenger-side window, reaches into the vehicle (i.e., places I.D. back into the vehicle), opens the door, and then picks I.D. up and walks toward the library, thereby demonstrating that no 'entrapment' of I.D.’s neck occurred."
“All of the evidence shows that [I.D.] self-strangulated on the passenger-side window by hanging from it when it was partially raised. There is no evidence that I.D. inadvertently actuated the passenger-side window switch, no evidence that she came into contact with the window while it was being raised, and there is no evidence of entrapment." — FCA US
According to Chrysler, even if the minivan's power window system and switches were defective, there is allegedly no evidence those defects caused the injuries.
In response to Chrysler's arguments, the plaintiffs say they are not required to produce evidence that "positively eliminates every other potential cause."
According to the lawsuit, the evidence is enough if it "establishes a logical sequence of cause and effect, notwithstanding the existence of other plausible theories, although other plausible theories may also have evidentiary support.”
The 2005 Chrysler Town & Country Lawsuit Heads to Jury Trial
After looking at arguments from both sides, Judge Bernard A. Friedman found a jury could find in favor of the plaintiffs "as to causation without engaging in conjecture or speculation."
When interviewed by the police, the grandmother indicated I.D. climbed into the front passenger seat and lowered the power window to look out. The grandmother then raised the window high enough to prevent I.D. from falling out.
Shortly afterward I.D. was unresponsive and the grandmother had to lower the window to remove the child from the minivan.
According to the judge, if the jury believes the grandmother’s statement to the police that I.D. was able to lower the window, the jury could reasonably find that I.D. raised the window as well.
The judge says expert testimony addressed how dangerous the toggle-style window switch can be, which means I.D. could have activated the switch by stepping on it.
"Other expert evidence, if the jury chooses to credit it, establishes that the window closed with sufficient force to cause asphyxiation. Medical evidence, including an MRI of I.D.’s neck, is also consistent with a pinch injury to this part of her body." — Judge Friedman
The judge says the issue of causation must be resolved by a jury.
The 2005 Chrysler Town & Country lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division: Perez, et al., vs. FCA USA LLC, et al.