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Chrysler could face fines over alleged product recall failures

Every manufacturer in the country, including those in New Jersey, is expected to make sure its products are safe when they reach the market. In cases where product defects are later discovered, manufacturers are generally expected to address the problem by notifying customers and then recalling the products if their defects are serious enough to threaten public health. Manufacturers thus have considerable responsibility in ensuring the safety of their customers. Most companies find that these practices also contribute to positive images that benefit them in the long run.

Unfortunately, U.S. automotive giant Fiat Chrysler may soon feel the effects of its alleged failure to make timely and effective recalls on a variety of products it put into the market over the years. According to the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the auto company committed 23 violations since 2013 on some 11 million vehicles dating back to the 1990s. NHTSA is also alleging that consumers died as a direct result of problems in Chrysler vehicles, including at least 75 people who died in accidents involving Jeeps, a Chrysler brand. Improperly designed and mounted fuel tanks made the Jeeps susceptible to fires when rear-ended.

When consumers suffer injuries or die as a direct result of using a product, then the common law principle of products liability allows the consumers to initiate lawsuits against the negligent manufacturers or producers.

NHTSA is expected to begin assessing fines against the company, perhaps as high as $35 million per incident, at the end of July. It alleges that various defective parts were never replaced through recalls as required by law. A public hearing was ordered by NHTSA for the company to present its arguments against being fined. Authorities will decide on the amount of punishment facing the company after hearing all arguments and comments.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "Top US auto safety regulator says Chrysler to face sanctions," Tom Krisher and Marcy Gordon, July 3, 2015

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