Lawsuit against Chrysler dismissed

By Joe Beck

A lawsuit accusing Chrysler Group of a design flaw in the 1994 Jeep Cherokee that led to the deaths of a family of four has been dismissed in Frederick County Circuit Court.

Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. signed the order dismissing the suit in mid-July. The plaintiffs sought a total of $50 million against Chrysler and Steven Allen Boyce of Shawneeland. Boyce was the driver of a Chevrolet S-10 pickup that collided with the rear end of the victims’ Jeep Cherokee.

The crash killed Amanda and Mark Roe and their sons, Caleb and Tyler. Richmond attorney James D. Hundley filed the suit on behalf of Amanda Roe’s mother, Brenda Simkhovitch, and Mark Roe’s brother, Carl, who are listed in court documents as administrators of the victims’ estates.

Boyce was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison on four counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter and several other lesser charges. Test results showed Boyce had a blood alcohol level of 0.33 at the time of the accident on June 26, 2011.

The accident was the first of two in Frederick County in which several occupants of Jeep Cherokees died after rear-end collisions that touched off vehicle fires.

On Oct. 5, a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee erupted in flames on Interstate 81 near Kernstown when a tractor-trailer crashed into it from behind. Two occupants of the Jeep died and one occupant survived.

Chrysler has been under pressure from the National Transportation Safety Agency and automotive safety advocates over the design of Jeep Cherokees built from 1993 to 2004.

Critics contend that Jeep Cherokees have a record of being much more vulnerable to gas tank explosions in rear-end collisions than similar vehicles.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com