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November 24, 2004

Chrysler to appeal $102 million verdict

As analyzed in more detail by Ted Frank at overlawyered, a Tennessee jury has awarded over $105 million to the family of an 8-month old killed in a tragic car injury in 2001 when a pickup truck going 70 miles per hour rear-ended the Chrysler minivan containing the infant. $101.75 million of the verdict is allocated to Chrysler on the theory that the infant's death was caused when the front seat of the van collapsed backwards onto his head. But the seat backs exceeded U.S. regulatory standards by more than three times, and as Ted points out, a stiffer seat back would result in far more net deaths over the vast majority of collisions.

Such is the problem of regulation through litigation, which lacks the sophistication of industry engineers and regulatory agencies and is prone to juries' "hindsight bias," i.e., "the human tendency to overstate the predictability of past events." (For a more detailed discussion of hindsight bias, see Steve Hantler's The Seven Myths of Highly Effective Plaintiffs' Lawyers.)

Chrysler has, of course, announced that it will appeal the decision.

Posted by James R. Copland at 04:06 PM | TrackBack (0)

Products Liability
Regulation Through Litigation



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