The case involved an accident in Mexico that killed four children after a father fell asleep at the wheel of a 1995 Chrysler Neon and his wife’s attempt to steer the car to safety from the passenger seat failed. A Texas law firm tried to blame the incident on the Neon’s de-coupler, a part that allows the steering column to collapse in the event of an accident that Chrysler recalled in 1997.
The lawyers in question replaced the de-coupler on the Neon involved with a damaged one and suppressed the fact that the father had fallen asleep behind the wheel. They even bribed Mexican police officers to forget the mother’s testimony that corroborated the facts.
Tort reform has been a mini-crusade for the Chrysler Group ever since CEO Tom LaSorda addressed the Chicago Economic Club on the subject during a speech given at the Chicago Auto Show. Citing hundreds of dollars added to the price of each vehicle it sells due to the cost of frivolous lawsuits, Chrysler has taken the legal profession to task for trying to take advantage of the automaker.
One of the three lawyers involved in this particular case has already been disbarred and another has been fined and is still practicing law in Texas. Chrysler is trying to ensure the third lawyer is disbarred, as well, for “fraudulent and dishonorable” behavior.