$6M sought in Jeep Liberty rollover suit

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 11, 2007, 10:00am

2002 Jeep Liberty

A woman who flipped and rolled her mother's 2002 Jeep Liberty last year filed a $6 million product liability and personal injury suit against DaimlerChrysler and Mertz Motor Company in Madison County Circuit Court June 7.

Ashlee Hoffman claims that on March 24, 2006, she was driving her mom's Jeep Liberty on Illinois Route 3 near Hartford when she unexpectedly swerved into the right-hand lane and then began to roll over end to end, leaving the roadway and coming to rest in the intersection of Route 3 and Hawthorne Road.

Hoffman claims the ball joint in the front suspension separated causing her to lose control of the car.

According to Hoffman, she was ejected from the vehicle and came to rest on the ground near the accident scene and taken by helicopter to St. Louis University Hospital for treatment.

She claims she was placed in a medically-induced coma due to the severity of her injuries, including two surgeries.

Hoffman claims she suffered severe internal injuries including two broken vertebrae at C6 and C7, three fractured disks in her back, broken right foot, lacerations to her liver and lungs, five broken ribs, pulmonary blood clots and blood clots and air pockets in her right lung.

Hoffman claims that six months after the accident, her mother received a safety recall from DaimlerChrysler that stated water may enter into the front suspension lower ball joints.

She claims the recall letter states that the water can cause the ball joint to corrode and separate which can result in a loss of steering control and could cause a crash without prior warning.

"The Jeep Liberty was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time it left the possession of DaimlerChrysler," the complaint states.

Hoffman claims DaimlerChrysler knew of the defect and failed to advise consumers of the defect.

"DaimlerChrysler's conduct exhibited a flagrant indifference to public safety, a lack of concern for public safety, and a spirit of utter indifference as to whether the Jeep Liberty might cause unnecessary injuries," the complaint states.

Hoffman claims her injuries have caused her to incur medical expenses, loss of earnings, permanent disfiguring injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life due to her restrictions to her physical movements.

She is represented by William T. Dowd of Dowd & Dowd in St. Louis.

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