Young Mother and Billy Edwards Turn Tragedy into Safer Seatbelts Worldwide
Widow receives jury verdict against Chrysler in the death of her husband who was ejected in a rollover crash. At trial, Billy Edwards proves Dodge Caravan seatbelts were defectively designed, making them prone to unlatching during collisions – and that the company knew it. The national news show 20/20 ran an expose of the issue. As a result of the lawsuit, Chrysler redesigned its seatbelts to make them safer.
Yvonne Moran lost her husband to tragedy in 1996 but, together with the Edwards Firm, transformed that loss into greater safety for millions of drivers and their passengers around the world.
On the morning of December 17, Bart Moran was on his way to the grocery store to pick up a turkey roasting pan when a car struck the side of his Dodge Caravan, sending it into a skid. The van rolled three times. Even though he had his seatbelt buckled, Bart was ejected and later died of massive head injuries and a broken neck. His daughter, Autumn, was only eight months old.
When Billy Edwards investigated, he discovered a fatal design flaw in the Caravan’s seat belt – called a Gen3. That flaw made the seatbelt prone to unlatching during collisions – exactly when it was needed most to keep drivers and passengers safe.
The firm’s investigation and subsequent trial testimony revealed that Chrysler engineers were aware of the Gen3’s tendency to unlatch accidentally. Even Chrysler and government crash tests showed Gen3 buckles unlatching. Other testing demonstrated that the buckle failed Chrysler’s own internal safety belt test for accidental release.
Billy Edwards and Yvonne turned to the media to help communicate the danger. The firm established a website and produced videos showing the belt unlatching easily around a driver and an infant car seat. The news caught fire. Other victims came forward and the story spread across the country. Within two years of Bart’s death and following the filing of Yvonne Moran’s lawsuit, DaimlerChrysler changed the design of its seatbelts.
On July 28th, 2000, the court awarded Yvonne the verdict against DaimlerChrysler. Although nothing could bring her husband back, Yvonne was comforted by the knowledge that her family’s ordeal resulted in safer seatbelts for millions of drivers worldwide.