By Associated Press
On the Net:
DaimlerChrysler AG, http://www.daimlerchrysler.com
Jury Verdict Research, http://www.juryverdictresearch.com/index.html
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- A jury has ordered the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG to pay $20 million to the family of a woman who was killed while driving one of the automaker's vans when a tire from another vehicle came loose and pushed the roof into her.
The sum, which includes payments of $5 million to each of her three sons because they witnessed her death, is among the largest in an automotive injury case in New Jersey, according to Jury Verdict Research, of Horsham, Pa., which tracks awards.
The Nov. 9 verdict came after a 10-day trial.
Chrysler plans to challenge the award.
"I know it's clearly one of the highest in New Jersey," said Stuart M. Feinblatt, lawyer for Annette Boryszewski. She died Aug. 5, 1998, when her 1998 Plymouth Voyager was hit by the left front tire of a vehicle going the other way on Interstate Highway 280 in East Orange.
The impact pushed the roof onto Boryszewski, 38. Her sons -- aged 14, 11 and 7 at the time -- had cuts from glass shards. The family, which had lived in Harrison, still lives in New Jersey, Feinblatt said.
The tires on the other vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler driven by Cody Burke, had been rotated at North End Mobil in Bloomfield one week earlier.
The tire that came loose was not found, but police determined that the other front wheel had not been tightened.
Confidential settlements were reached with Burke, 24, of Glen Ridge; the garage operator; and Exxon Mobil Corp.; leaving DaimlerChrysler the only defendant.
Ken Gluckman, Chrysler Group general counsel, called the incident a "freak accident."
"The Plymouth Voyager's roof system is 50 percent stronger than government requirements and stronger than all other minivans tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration," Gluckman said. "The tire hit with such force, any vehicle's roof would have deformed."