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Lawsuit Claims DaimlerChrysler Seat Belt Faulty

Mar 31, 2003 | www.cbc.ca A lawsuit has been filed in Texas claiming the Gen-3 seat belt in many DaimlerChrysler vehicles is prone to opening during rollovers.

The suit alleges the seat belt failed to restrain six passengers in a 1996 Chrysler minivan. The vehicle overturned near Beeville, Texas in December 2002. Two people died and a child was paralyzed.

Chrysler has replaced the Gen-3 belt with the Gen-4 on the Dodge Durango and Dodge Dakota but the Gen-3 remains standard on many other models.

The suit says the Gen-3 is badly-designed because it has a protruding release button.

DaimlerChrysler has denied any defect in the belt saying it has "an excellent safety record spanning the past decade." The company says it has found, in similar suits, the seat belt was not being worn at the time of an accident.

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, says it has reports of at least 14 deaths and 19 serious injuries connected to the Gen-3 unlatching. The group says it has more than 100 reports from consumers of the seat belt unlatching accidentally.

Only one case linked to the Gen-3 has been won. A Texas suit alleging the belt unlatched during a minivan rollover ended in favour of the plaintiffs to the tune of $6.7 million. DaimlerChrysler appealed the ruling.

Courts in Arizona, Nevada and California have dismissed Gen-3 class actions.

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