Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 1998 Plymouth Voyager's Dangerously Weak Roof
Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will admit that the 1998 Plymouth Voyager's weak roof strength is a danger to occupants. In 1998, Annette Boryszewski, 38, was driving a 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan on a New Jersey highway. When the front wheel of a nearby Jeep Wrangler fell off, it struck the roof and windshield of the minivan. The wheel pushed the minivan's roof header into Annette's head, fracturing her skull and killing her on impact.
Her three sons, who were in the minivan, were not personally injured. Yet all three boys had vivid recollections of the car accident. Seeing and hearing the tire hit the minivan and shatter the windshield, experiencing the minivan careening out of control before it stopped at the highway divider, hearing their mother scream, then collapse.
The Boryszewski family sued Chrysler, claiming the minivan's weak roof design was partially at fault.
"If a roof crushes substantially during an accident--from a failure of the side rails, headers or support pillars--occupants can suffer serious injuries or death," said nationally recognized auto product liability attorney John Bisnar. "The roof structure of a safely designed vehicle should be able to withstand the impact of a tire. This is especially true since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed an upgrade to its Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which would require that a roof withstand an applied force equal to 2.5 times a vehicle's weight."
Chrysler said the Wrangler's tires had been rotated at a Mobil gas station a week earlier, and police found that the other front tire had not been tightened properly. Chrysler further asserted that the Plymouth Voyager's roof system is 50 percent stronger than government requirements and stronger than all other minivans tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They insisted that the defective roof incident was a freak accident, and that the Wrangler's tire hit with such force that any vehicle's roof would have deformed.
Although evidence was allowed in the courtroom about the gas station's failure to properly tighten the bolts on the other vehicle's tires, the court did not allow the jury to assign fault to anyone other than Daimler Chrysler. The car maker was the lone remaining defendant at trial after the driver of the other vehicle, the gas station owners and Exxon Mobil all settled with the Boryszewskis.
The New Jersey jury was required to make a complex evaluation and assessment as to each of the surviving Boryszewski boys' emotional suffering and health. Each child's journey from the unquestionably horrible double trauma of the common event to emotional health was unique and ongoing. The jury ordered Chrysler to pay $20 million. A lawyer for Chrysler stated that the company had filed for a new trial, and also said the case did not reveal any product defects in the roof of its minivans.
"The overwhelming grief of a lost mother and spouse can be devastating," noted Brian Chase of the nationally recognized auto defects firm Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys. "Yet, amidst their tragic circumstance, the Boryszewski family found the courage to confront Chrysler and hold them accountable for designing an unsafe vehicle. We commend this courageous family for their strength in doing the right thing. We hope that these product liability lawsuits, and the many motor vehicle liability lawsuits we have filed against Chrysler and other car makers will convince them to improve the structural integrity of their vehicles and make them safer for consumers."
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.