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Justice for Burn Death of Child in a Jeep

— March 20, 2018

Remi Walden was burned to death in a Jeep with a gas tank located behind the rear axle. Fiat Chrysler fought the judgment even after it was reduced.

In March 2012, Remi Walden, age 4, was tragically burned to death in a Jeep with a gas tank located behind the rear axle. Legal Reader has followed this litigation and included a video describing an initial jury award of $150 million. Fiat Chrysler has fought the judgment in appeals even after a judge reduced the award to $40 million.1

Now, six years later, the Georgia Supreme Court has just ruled unanimously in favor of the boy’s family and upheld the $40 million judgment.2

Automotive News carried a Reuters article by David Shepardson, who reported:

“Michael Palese, a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which makes the Jeep, said the company was “disappointed in this decision” and added, “We are considering our legal options.” …

FCA logo; image by Robilant Associati Studio (, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
FCA logo; image by Robilant Associati Studio (, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“On appeal, the company contended it was prejudicial to raise Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation which totaled more than $68 million according to a company executive who testified at trial.” 3

The Center for Auto Safety

The Center for Auto Safety, for decades under the leadership of Clarence Ditlow, fought for recall of deadly Jeeps. It continues to do so under the leadership of Jason Levine. The Center issued a press release noting that:

As we stated in our brief to the Court, had the Center’s 2009 petition for a full recall of the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee been acted on in a timely and effective manner, Remi would likely be alive today. Instead, he burned to death at the age of four in a vehicle that should have been designed for his protection but was designed with a plastic fuel tank located behind the rear axle.

If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had listened to the advice of its own internal experts in 2013, when they recommended the recall not only of the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but of the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty as well for the same fire risk, as many as 50 other deaths, including two just last summer in Ohio, probably would have been prevented.

Instead, in the summer of 2013, in a back room in an airport in Detroit, just weeks after career experts recommended a comprehensive approach to address this deadly defect, DOT failed. The agency’s political leadership negotiated with FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne, to recall only a smaller group of vehicles, and approved what has again and again proven to be an ineffective “fix,” of attaching a trailer hitch to the back of the vehicle. Even Chrysler’s former Vice President of engineering testified under oath that the “tow package [which includes the trailer hitch] does not protect the [fuel] tank.” 4

The Center has a “Jeep Grand Cherokee Fires Homepage” that contains a long list of resource documents on the battles fought to protect people against harms from Jeep fires.5

The public and government officials need to know more about the dangers we all face such as unsafe Jeeps.

We also need to know more about the humanitarian good done to prevent such tragedies by the Center and such lawyers as James Butler who worked for years representing the family of Remi Walden.6

Will this case go down in history and be featured in the American Museum of Tort Law so others can be educated and inspired?7


  1. Chrysler Appeals Remi Walden Verdict, Says Excessive
  2. Ga. Supreme Court Says Chrysler Must Pay $40M Jeep Judgment
  3. FCA loses appeal of fatal Jeep-fire case before Georgia Supreme Court
  4. Georgia Supreme Court Rules Against Chrysler in Jeep Fire Case – Center for Auto Safety Renews Demand for Complete Recall
  5. Jeep Grand Cherokee Fires Homepage
  6. Butler Wooten & Peak LLP
  7. American Museum of Tort Law

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