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NHTSA Imposes Largest Penalty Ever on Fiat Chrysler

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently slapped the biggest penalty in its history on Fiat Chrysler due to, among other issues, the company’s failure to repair unsafe vehicles pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (“the Act”).

Established in 1970, the NHTSA is a branch of the federal government dedicated to motor vehicle and highway safety, including taking steps to resolve, mitigate, and control the risk of harm to the motoring public. Detailed, up-to-date recall information about vehicle recalls and related issues can be found on its website.

Consent Order Leads to Hefty Fines

In a consent order recently entered between Fiat Chrysler and the NHTSA, the automaker agreed to pay some $105 million in civil penalties. This amount represents a cash penalty equal to the then-record $70 million imposed upon auto giant Honda a few months ago, along with another $20 million to meet performance requirements and $15 million for additional violations if any are later discovered by an independent monitor.

In addition to the fine, Fiat Chrysler also agreed to submit to rigorous federal oversight and potentially buy back around 500,000 vehicles that are believed to have a suspension defect that could affect vehicle control. Furthermore, owners of another million vehicles with potential fire issues will be able to trade in their defective autos at a price above their market value or receive a monetary incentive aimed at encouraging the owners to get their vehicles fixed. In the order, Fiat Chrysler agreed to notify owners concerning buybacks and incentives.

The action comes after a public hearing earlier in the summer to discuss nearly two dozen recalls covering over 11 million allegedly defective vehicles made by Fiat Chrysler.

Multiple Admissions of Wrongdoing by Fiat Chrysler

By entering into the consent decree, Fiat Chrysler admitted to multiple violations of the Act, including failure to adequately remedy defective vehicles in connection with multiple recalls, failure to timely notify vehicle owners of the existence of defects, and failure to provide the NHTSA with timely, accurate, and complete information relating to vehicle defects and recalls as required by law.

The order also includes “unprecedented oversight” for a three-year period, including the hiring of an independent monitor. Fiat Chrysler is also required to meet with the NHTSA quarterly to discuss the actions that it is taking to satisfy its performance obligations. The first meeting will occur this fall, with subsequent meetings every 90 days.

To Get Advice About a Potential Product Liability Claim

If you or your family has been impacted by a dangerous or defective product, the Cape Cod products liability attorneys at the Law Firm of John C. Mannog, III, can help you investigate and evaluate the claims that you may have against the manufacturer, wholesaler, and seller of the product. Call us for an appointment at (888) 262-6664. We serve all of Massachusetts, with offices conveniently located in Hyannis and Plymouth. There is no charge for the first appointment, and many cases are accepted on a contingency fee arrangement.

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