– Consumers Deserve Better – Daimler Chrysler’s Known Seat Belt Defect Causes Permanent Injuries To Victim

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.– On October 4, 2004, Tonia Kozlowski, a beautiful young woman, was traveling in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee across Alligator Alley on her way to Naples. Tonia, who was wearing her seat belt, suddenly lost control the vehicle which led to her Jeep rolling over several times.

Tonia was ejected from the Jeep through the driver’s side window. Tonia was TraumaHawked to a local hospital and was placed on a ventilator where she remained in a coma for two weeks. As a result of the ejection, Tonia suffered multiple severe and permanent injuries, including facial, brain, and spinal damage. Today she is still undergoing reconstructive surgeries, endures intense pain, has hearing loss, and suffers from double vision.

Scott C. Murray, attorney in West Palm Beach, FL based law firm of Murray & Guari represents Tonia Kozlowski in her action against Daimler Chrysler. “It’s a travesty when Daimler Chrysler put profits over consumer safety and human life,” said Murray. “Daimler Chrysler had extensive knowledge of the defects not only from their own testing which failed, but also from its own customers and their warranty centers,” added Murray.

Daimler Chrysler used a defective seatbelt in Tonia’s Jeep, called a Gen 3 Buckle; which their own internal testing showed was defective. These buckles were known for Inadvertent Release – release from inadvertent contact and also from Inertial Release – unlatching during crashes and rollovers when the release button or back of the buckle hits any part of the car or a person.

As early as 2003, Public Citizen, a public consumer advocacy group, and Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, agreed that these buckles were patently unsafe and should be recalled immediately and began pressuring Daimler Chrysler to take action to improve their vehicles safety – which was more than 14 million automobiles. The Center for Auto Safety stated in terms of seat belt design, this is the worst they have ever seen.
“The problem with seat belt accidents like Tonia’s is that the failure isn’t always obvious after a crash and it can often appear that the occupant wasn’t wearing a seat belt,” said Murray.”

Also at issue was the vehicle’s poor design and use of tempered glass in the side windows which greatly increases a consumer’s chance of being ejected from the vehicle in an accident or rollover, as in Tonia case. In the 1950’s, Daimler Chrysler used laminated glass in the majority of its vehicle’s windows and had tested a 1997 Jeep Cherokee with side laminated glass which has been proven to save lives and keep occupants in the vehicle.

Daimler Chrysler was also negligent in failing to properly test their vehicles to determine occupant reactions in a rollover. They did not test to determine inertial forces acting on the buckle, they did no “ball testing” to simulate an elbow strike, and they did not test to determine kinematics during a rollover. They also failed to warn consumers or recall its vehicles despite more than 288 CAIRS, 11,433 warranty complaints, 30 lawsuits and extensive failed test results.

Murray Guari settled the case for a confidential amount. “This was such a needless accident, added Murray. “Tonia was a beautiful, vibrant young woman with so much to look forward to. Now her life will be a constant struggle and her permanent injuries a constant reminder that a company valued their profits over her safety. We hope this settlement can help Tonia move forward and continue to receive the care she needs to continue her recovery”, Murray added.

Scott Murray is a partner in the law firm of Murray Guari Trial Attorneys PL. The firm was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, at 1525 N. Flagler Drive, Suite 100. Mr. Murray can be contacted at (561) 366-9099. Additional information about Murray Guari Trial Attorneys PL may be obtained from the firm’s website at www.murrayguari.com.