May 2014 — A lawsuit filed last month in a Texas federal court against Chrysler Group LLC alleged that the Dodge Durango line of SUVs do not have skid plates or other methods to protect the fuel tank from undercarriage strikes. This is a defect that can cause serious injury or even death to drivers.
Erin Edney, the lead Plaintiff in the suit, alleges that she purchased a Chrysler 2011 Dodge Durango with a defective fuel tank design. She says as a result of the defect she suffered severe burns when a piece of road debris penetrated her fuel tank and her car caught fire and was engulfed in flames. It’s alleged further:
Undercarriage strikes from road debris and other sources are a known and foreseeable risk for vehicle designers, including Defendant, and pose a risk of property damage and personal injury. The subject fuel system design was unreasonably dangerous and defectively designed because it provided inadequate protection for the fuel tank to protect it from undercarriage strikes.
According to the complaint, Chrysler offered an optional fuel tank skid plate, but did not provide any information to customers about the safety importance of this option. At the time the car was manufactured, the Plaintiff alleges that alternative designs existed that were safer than the design Chrysler used in the Durangos, but that the automaker chose not to use them.
The other designs would have reduced the risk of Ms. Edney’s injury and would not have substantially impaired the product’s utility. It’s contended that Chrysler negligently designed the vehicle’s fuel storage system and “negligently failed to perform adequate failure mode and effects analysis and similar engineering activities to prevent ruptured fuel tanks and associated fire.”
Mrs. Edney is represented by Jeffrey T. Embry of Hossley Embry LLP, a law firm with offices in Tyler and Dallas, Texas, in the case, which is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.