Resources Safety Related Articles Out of Court Settlement Reached in Van Rollover Case
Out of Court Settlement Reached in Van Rollover Case PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janna Smeltzer   
Wednesday, 23 October 2002 08:55

WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- Victims in a 15-passenger van rollover lawsuit reached a settlement Tuesday with DaimlerChrysler and Michelin. The amount and terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

"The families of the victims have been fairly and adequately compensated in the settlement," said David Perry, of the Corpus Christi law firm of Perry & Haas, L.L.P., attorney for the families of many of the victims in the case.

The lawsuit included allegations of manufacturing defects against Michelin and unsafe design against DaimlerChrysler. The case involved a Dodge Ram 3500 Van, a type of extended-passenger van typically used by churches and schools. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned consumers twice that extended-passenger vans become highly unstable and tend to roll during emergency maneuvers.

On May 8, 2001, twelve women were driving to a Gainesville, Texas, Outlet mall in a church-owned van when one of the van's Michelin tires, which were sold as original equipment on the vehicle, suddenly lost its tread.

The driver, 62-year-old church member Dorothy Griffin, could not bring The large, 15-passenger van under control. The van crossed into the center Median and rolled over several times. Ms. Griffin and three friends were killed in the wreck. All members of the First Assembly of God church in Burkburnett, the surviving victims and their families contended that DaimlerChrysler and Michelin were aware of the possibility and consequences of tire failure on The van, yet failed to provide proper warning about the risks of driving the van.

The latest NHTSA warning, issued in April 2001, advised the public that these vans are three times as likely to roll over when carrying ten passengers than they are when carrying five or fewer passengers. When fully loaded with fifteen passengers, the vans are six times more likely to rollover.

In many cases, insurance companies that specialize in institutional policies for schools and churches have decided to drop coverage for these vehicles. Studies of claims in accidents involving 15-passenger vans indicated eight deaths and 42 serious injuries in a two-year period ending in 2001. Guide One, the Nation's largest church insurance company, no longer issues new policies on 15-passenger vans and urges customers to purchase smaller school buses as an alternative.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 16:38