Last week, we told you about the many consumers severly injured by design and manufacturing defects in Chrysler vehicles, who could go uncompensated as a result of Chrysler’s proposed bankruptcy. Well increasingly, the news has been filled with stories that put faces with those numbers, and the results have been gut wrenching.
Consider the case of 8-month-old Joshua Flax who was killed as a result of a defective seat design in his family’s Dodge Caravan. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court importantly let stand a decision ordering the company to pay for this child’s death, including $13 million in “punitive” damages for its perilously-designed and lethal seat. (Thanks to the Center for Constitutional Litigation for their help on this case.) Yet if Chrysler’s proposed bankruptcy agreement is approved without changes to help these victims, this family would receive nothing for their baby’s death.
Then there’s the story of Joseph and Jeanne Polio, a retired couple from East Haven, CT. In July of 2005, their Jeep was involved in a crash (not their fault) which landed on its roof and crushed down on Jeanne, and her leaving herparalyzed from the chest down. Their attorney says that Jeanne’s injury was due to roof crush standards that “have been unchanged for 30 years and are ‘grossly inadequate.”’ The couple now lives off of Joseph’s modest city police officer pension, and has already incurred $175,000 in costs to modify their home to accommodate Jeanne’s wheelchair.
Finally, there’s the case of Robert Dinnigan, who is suing GM because a failed seat belt left his 8-year-old daughter quadriplegic. After a crash, she was “nearly strangled” as “the adult seat belt and shoulder restraint snapped her neck.” She has “no feeling, can't breathe on her own, can hardly move her head.” Dinnigan estimates Amanda’s health care costs to be $500,000 a year. "It's a very big concern right now," said Dinnigan, 47. Dinnigan, who works as an ironworker, has had to construct a “mini-intensive care unit” in his Smithtown, L.I., home to care for Amanda.