For Christmas in 1999, two sisters, Nancy Johnson and Jill Davis (the names have been changed per the families’ request), made plans for their families to go to Las Vegas. The Johnson family lived in Detroit, Michigan and the Davis family lived in Canada. The families flew to Los Angeles and rented a 1999 Dodge Caravan at the airport. En route to Las Vegas, the driver lost control of the van and it rolled over. During the rollover, the van’s sliding door on the passenger’s side opened and fell off, and four passengers – two seated on the van’s front bench and two on the rear bench – were ejected.

Two of the passengers, Nancy Johnson and her 18-year old daughter, suffered fatal injuries. Nancy was a gifted research engineer and her daughter was a Canadian national scholar. Nancy’s mother, who was also a passenger in the van, suffered broken bones in her feet, ankle, and shoulder. She also suffered significant grief in watching the fatal injuries to her daughter and granddaughter. Jill Davis, the fourth passenger, suffered brain injuries that left her with memory loss and sensory deficits. She also suffered severe and disfiguring facial injuries resulting in scarring, multiple orthopedic injuries, and significant internal bleeding that required several surgeries. Jill was a medical research scientist at the time of the accident and has faced difficulties returning to the type of work that she did before the accident.

Both families contacted a lawyer in Detroit, Michigan. This attorney was familiar with the landmark verdict in the case of Jimenez vs. Chrysler Corporation (the Joye Law Firm had a victory in an earlier Chrysler minivan case) and he contacted JLF attorney Mark Joye to represent the families. “From the extensive work we had done in Jimenez against Chrysler, I knew all of the corners Chrysler had cut in the production of these minivans. Removing the latch on that sliding door is one of those cost-cutting, profit-generating short-cuts that needlessly took the lives of two wonderful people and destroyed two families,” said Joye. Joye filed suit in California state court against the manufacturer of the minivan, alleging that it was defectively designed. The only latch on the sliding door was on the trailing edge of the door, not the leading edge. As a result, the door had peeled open during the collision, creating a large porthole through which the passengers were ejected. Joye was prepared to show that just a moderate amount of roof crush would cause the leading edge of the sliding door to come out of its socket and knock the door off its track, causing the door to detach in a rollover.

“We knew that the minivan’s original design had incorporated a hook system in the leading edge of the door, where it assists in keeping the door closed in an accident, which is a major safety issue for vehicles involved in accidents,” said Joye. “Doors must stay shut in collisions. Instead, the hook system was replaced with a flimsy bolt no bigger than the width of a pencil, and it was designed to wedge the front edge of the door into the support post. In any type of roll-over or roof crush accident, the force can easily wedge the bolt out and from there, and the door will just fly wide open.”

Joye litigated the case in California and shortly before trial he obtained a favorable confidential settlement with Daimler Chrysler on behalf of the surviving family members. “While nothing would erase the loss suffered by these families, they are happy to put this event behind them,” Joye said. “We have proved another dangerous problem with these Chrysler minivans. We will continue to fight for the rights of innocent victims of defective products across the country.”

Recent Blog Post
Why You Need Renters Insurance

Many apartment complexes require residents to purchase renters insurance in order to live there. However, unlike car insurance, renters insurance may be contractually required but it isn’t legally required. There’s no law that says you need to purchase it, so many people,…

big truck
The Hidden Danger of Big Pickup Trucks

Have you noticed that pickup trucks are getting bigger? It’s hard not to notice their size when a mega truck is blocking your line of sight. Since 2000, the hood height of full-sized trucks has grown by 11 percent, while…

Are Insurance Companies Biased Against Motorcyclists?

Insurance exists to protect motorcyclists by helping them pay for their bills if they are injured in a crash. Insurance is especially important for motorcyclists because they have much less protection than passengers in other types of vehicles do. Injuries…

Don’t Tailgate and Tailgate This Football Season

While drinking and driving is a well-known offense, it is vital to remember how important it is to never get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol, especially as football season arrives. Many people enjoy alcoholic drinks while…

Awards & Recognition
Best Law Firms 2021
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
B Member
Martindale-Hubbell
Best Lawyers 2021 Small
BBB
ASJ Leaders Forum
National Trial Lawyers Top 100
Google Review
Avvo Rating
Media
CBS News
Fox
NBC
ABC