— Two California brothers have filed a lawsuit against Chrysler after suffering severe burns in a Jeep Grand Cherokee fire.
On April 5, 2014, plaintiffs Magdaleno and Raymundo Sanchez were traveling in a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the Jeep was struck from behind by a 2011 Honda Accord. The impact caused the Grand Cherokee gas tank to catch fire and within seconds the Jeep was engulfed in flames.
With the seats burning and fire all around, the brothers got out seconds before the Grand Cherokee exploded. Magdaleno and Raymundo Sanchez suffered severe burns on their torso, arms and hands. The brothers are construction workers and musicians, both occupations now allegedly impossible to pursue because of the burns and scars on their hands.
While Chrysler has always insisted the Jeeps are safe and met all federal safety requirements at the time, the lawsuit says just the opposite, including:
1. The gas tank was designed and installed in a location that is susceptible to rupture, puncture or other damage that would cause gas to leak.
2. The gas tank of the Jeep was designed with material that is susceptible to rupture, puncture, or other damage that would cause a breach in the fuel tank allowing fuel and fuel vapors to escape.
3. The Jeep was not equipped with a shield that protects the gas tank from rupture.
4. The fuel filler neck of the Jeep was routed in such a way that it is susceptible to being torn away, pulled off, punctured or damaged in the event of an accident.
5. The gas tank of the Jeep was not equipped with a check valve that would prevent gas from spilling from the fuel filler neck if the fuel filler neck was torn away, pulled off, punctured or damaged in the event of an accident.
Owners of older Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys have waited years to see Chrysler do more to protect those SUVs from rear-impact fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spent four years investigating the location of the gas tanks in the SUVs and eventually asked Chrysler to recall about 2.7 million Jeeps. Chrysler said no but later ordered a recall of about 1.5 million model year 1993-1998 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs.
Just days ago Chrysler announced it was finally ready to begin the recall, a year after it was announced. The automaker will install a trailer hitch on the affected Jeeps, but according to the Jeep Grand Cherokee lawsuit, the recall is too little too late.
"Defendant Chrysler negligently, willfully and wantonly, grossly negligently, recklessly maliciously, with willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others, including Plaintiffs, failed to adequately warn or instruct of the potential risks associated with the use of the Jeep and its fuel tank position, rendering it defective." - Magdaleno Santiago Sanchez et al vs. Chrysler Group LLC et al