Chrysler Responds to Civil Penalties
18 August 1998Chrysler Statement In Response to District Judge Order Assessing Civil Penalties
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 17 -- The following statement was issued today by Susan Cischke, Executive Director of Vehicle Safety for Chrysler Corporation : "Chrysler Corporation is shocked and disappointed by District Judge Emmet Sullivan's order on Friday assessing $800,000 in civil penalties based on Chrysler's decision to challenge the government's request to recall and notify customers of 1995 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus vehicles following the failure of a rear seat belt anchor test. "There are really two separate issues, a compliance issue, and a legal recourse issue. "Judge Sullivan previously agreed that NHTSA did not provide the automotive industry with adequate notice of the agency's interpretation of the standard, yet he ordered Chrysler to recall the vehicles nonetheless. The Company agreed to do so, and in March 1998, recalled the vehicles in question and notified owners in response to the court order. We stress, once again, that there has not been a single incident of rear seat belt anchor failure on these vehicles. "The second, more disturbing, issue deals with recourse. As a manufacturer, our only course of action if we disagree with NHTSA, a government agency, is through the court system. In this case, we believe that we had legitimate reasons to disagree with the initial NHTSA determination. We have followed the appropriate legal procedures step by step and have complied fully with the court's order. "Now, we are essentially being penalized for using the only avenue available to us -- legal recourse -- and our confidence in getting relief from unreasonable regulatory actions has been shaken. "We plan to appeal this decision."