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The Power of Knowledge

In a twist of timing that will forever be remembered when I am absent from any event, the day after my younger daughter was born in January 2007, I left my then 3-year-old and my newborn to my wife and her mother-in-law and flew down to Los Angeles for the opening statements in a case called Mraz v. DaimlerChrysler one day later. Richard Mraz had suffered fatal head injuries when the 1992 Dodge Dakota pickup truck he had been driving at his work site ran him over after he exited the vehicle believing it was in park. I had worked for a year to get the case ready for trial, and mother nature's timing was not to get in the way. No "Park-to-reverse" cases had been tried as far as I know in over 20 years (prior trials dated back to Ford Park-to-Reverse events in the Jimmy Carter era). The trial eventually lasted for 6 weeks, during which we presented what we believed to be insurmountable evidence of the mechanical defects in the Dodge Dakota's automatic transmission that led to Mr. Mraz's accident, and Chrysler having chosen to ignore the defect in its vehicles. At the end of the trial, the jury awarded a $4.2M in compensatory damages to the family, and then added a further $50M in punitive damages due to what it found to be "conscious disregard" of safety by Chrysler. Over the years many people (including my now 9 and 6-year-olds, who are now old enough to ask a lot of questions), have asked me details of this defect, and most importantly how to prevent future injuries. Given that unfortunately injuries and deaths from this defect continue to occur to this day, I have decided to put up this website to help raise awareness about the issue. Most of the information on this website, including footage, was used during Mraz and some of the other similar cases I have done, on vehicles from Dodge Dakotas, to Jeep Grand Cherokees, to Ram Pick-ups, to Chrysler mini-vans, to Ford Crown Victorias and F-150 pick-ups. My goal is to simply provide knowledge and share information. If you happen to own a car that is susceptible to the "inadvertent movement", you would want to be aware and pay attention to make sure your vehicle is always in park, and also to take additional precautions people do not usually do with automatics, such as always setting the emergency brake. Until all manufacturers (not just some as today) have addressed the issue, the public needs to be more knowledgeable about the lurking danger and be more vigilant about taking charge of their own safety.

#Mraz #chrysler #dodgepickup

Author

Scott P. Nealey is a San Francisco-based plaintiff's side trial attorney.  Scott is the founder and principal of Nealey Law.  He was the lead counsel in the Mraz v. DaimlerChrysler and Gulliot vs. Chrysler cases involving deaths caused by the "park-to-reverse" vehicle defect.

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The park-to-reverse defect may be described using different terms depending upon the factual situation of an accident or event.   All involve a driver who believes that he/she has shifted into "park" and believing so, and the vehicle not moving when they pull their foot off the brake, proceeds to exit the vehicle.   There is then a delay in vehicle movement sufficient for the driver to either fully or partially exit the vehicle before vehicle movement starts.   Typically, the vehicle will move backwards in powered reverse.  However, when placed in "false park" (the vehicle is between the park and reverse gear position; i.e. "false park" and the transmission is in hydraulic neutral, without the parking pawl engaged),  the vehicle can also roll either forward or back in neutral without shifting into a powered gear.   While less common, transmissions with the defect, can also be shifted to between neutral and drive, and then self shift into drive (called a "neutral to drive" accident).

Scott P. Nealey is a San Francisco-based plaintiff's side trial attorney.  He is the founder and principal of Nealey Law, a San Francisco based trial-focused, plaintiff law firm litigating complex class action, consumer and product liability nationwide.  Scott Nealey was the lead counsel in Mraz vs. DaimlerChrysler (2007) and in Guillot vs. Chrysler (2008)  both of which were park-to-reverse cases tried to verdict (since the Jimmy Carter era).  For his work in Mraz, Scott received the 2007 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award and was named a Finalist for San Francisco Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2008.  Scott was also named one of the Northern California Super Lawyers and San Francisco's Best Lawyers 2012 and 2016.

The material on this website is intended for public education and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The material is not guaranteed to be complete, or up to date.


This information is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
 

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