Statement of Jeremy Warriner, Indianapolis, Ind.
My name is Jeremy Warriner. I lost my legs (due to severe burns) in a tragic car accident three and a half years ago. Qualified experts have examined the wreckage of my Jeep and determined that the fire was caused by a defect in the design of the vehicle. For that reason, I have been pursuing a personal injury/product liability lawsuit against Chrysler since shortly after the accident happened. Last November, Chrysler’s attorneys delayed the court ordered mediation and it was rescheduled for May 5 of this year. Unfortunately, Chrysler declared bankruptcy a few days before the mediation was to occur.
Chrysler has listed all of its pending product liability lawsuits as “unsecured creditors” in the bankruptcy. What this means is that if the Treasury Department decides that unsecured creditors get nothing, then the lawsuits are over, and anyone who has been injured by Chrysler products will not have the opportunity to re-file against the “new Chrysler.” Since Chrysler is not going out of business, it will have effectively used our bankruptcy laws – and the taxpayers’ money that is being used to finance the bankruptcy – to sweep the people who have been injured by Chrysler products under the rug and walk away as if it never happened!
Even more disturbing, if Chrysler is allowed to get away with this, it will set a precedent for how future bankruptcies are handled. If GM or any other manufacturer files bankruptcy after Chrysler, they will be able to do the same thing. Many people stand to be hurt by this, and it will have an impact that could last far into the future.
Chrysler’s bankruptcy hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 27. I am here today because we have a very narrow opportunity to raise our voices and stop this injustice from happening. The administration has the power to send these cases back to their original courts and ensure that the “new Chrysler” stands by its products by mediating these cases out of court or accepting the judgment of a jury. I hope that they listen to us and do the right thing.