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Seatbelt Suit Gets Class-Action Status

Jul 5, 2002 | AP

A judge has granted nationwide class-action status to a lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler AG on behalf of owners of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles that have a type of seat belt buckle.

Class-action status was more appropriate because "it would be grossly inefficient, exorbitantly costly, a waste of judicial resources, and an invitation for conflicting results to require each class member to repetitively litigate the common issues presented in this cause," County Court Judge Hector De Pena wrote in an eight-page ruling Wednesday.

Edwards Law Firm LLP said in a news release the so-called Gen 3 buckle is prone to unlatching during accidents or from around child or infant car seats in sharp turns or sudden stops.

At least three deaths have been blamed on the buckle, and four others are under investigation, the law firm said.

The lawsuit first filed in 2000 seeks replacement of Gen 3 belt buckles on about 14 million Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles made since 1993.

It also seeks reimbursement for inconveniences that may be caused during the replacements, up to $500 per owner.

A spokeswoman for DaimlerChrysler did not immediately return a call for comment on the lawsuit, announced by the plaintiffs on Friday.

DaimlerChrysler now installs an updated seat belt in the front seats of minivans starting with the 2000 model year, but still uses the Gen 3 belts in the middle and rear seats.

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