The Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation announced that Fiat Chrysler will repair and/or buy back certain defective vehicles and pay a civil penalty of $105 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The penalty is the highest imposed by the NHTSA ever. The affected vehicles have serious safety defects that violate the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
The USDOT action follows a public hearing, where NHTSA identified Motor Vehicle Safety Act violations relating to 11 million defective cars. In the fact of the evidence, Fiat Chrysler confessed to Safety Act violations relating to its failure to:
- Recall and remedy defects in a timely fashion and
- Provide notifications to dealers and vehicle owners and
- Provide notifications to the NHTSA.
According to the Secretary of USDOT, the action against Fiat Chrysler will push the automaker to complete recall repairs and/or get unsafe cars off the road. The USDOT Secretary further stated that the penalties will serve as a warning to other carmakers that USDOT will act in cases of non-compliance regarding recall issues and safety defects.
Fiat Chrysler has since consented to take necessary action to repair the vehicles and/or remove them from roadways. As a result, the owners of over 500,000 Fiat Chrysler cars will be able to sell their vehicles back to the automaker. Furthermore, the owners of over 1 million Jeeps will be able to trade in their cars for above-market value and/or be provided with financial incentives to have their cars repaired.
The defects at issue in this action can result in Fiat Chrysler automobiles going out of control, which would cause fatal and injurious car accidents. Any Texas resident who suspects that he or she was injured or harmed by Fiat Chrysler defects may have strong claims for personal injury damages in court.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “U.S. DOT announces Fiat Chrysler enforcement action,” July 26, 2015