Chrysler has found themselves a party to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal district court in Houston.
According to the papers filed with the court, the design flaws in a 2003 model of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan are what contributed to the deaths of a Houston couple and left two of their children paralyzed.
On July 2, the family had been driving on a two-lane highway in West Texas when a Toyota 4Runner suddenly swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting the family’s Chrysler minivan head on. The impact caused the front end of the minivan to collapse inward, crushing the father and mother in the front seating compartment. In the backseat, the 8-year-old and 9-year-old sons were also wearing their seatbelts, but the accident caused serious internal and spinal cord injuries to both. Their 6-year-old sister, who was in a booster seat in the back, only received minor injuries.
Documents filed with the court say that had the minivan been properly designed the Houston couple would “in all likelihood” still be alive and the two young boys would not be confined to wheelchairs. The minivan should have had an adequate safety cage, which is a rigid steel structure to protect passengers in collisions. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the minivan did not have properly designed crush zones, which would have helped absorb the impact of a collision.
Had the minivan been better designed, and the other driver not distracted, the three children would not have lost their parents.
The driver of the Toyota 4Runner was also named in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Relatives of Berry family sue Chrysler, driver in wreck that killed parents,” 5/15/12.