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Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 Sergio Marchionne, CEO Chrysler 1000 Chrysler Dr. Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 Alfredo Altavilla CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies Via Nizza, 250 - 10126 Turin (Italy) James J. Blanchard, Partner DLA Piper 500 Eighth Street, NW Washington, DC 20004 George F.J. Gosbee Chairman, President and CEO Tristone Capital Inc., 2020, 335 - 8th Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 1C9 Douglas M. Steenland, Director Delta Air Lines, Inc. Post Office Box 20706 Atlanta, GA 30320-6001 Scott Stuart Sageview Capital, Founder 55 Railroad Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 Ronald Thompson Chairman, TIAA Board of Trustees Chair, Human Resources Committee TIAA and CREF Trustees c/o Office of the Corporate Secretary 730 Third Avenue New York, NY 10017-3206 Stephen Wolf Chairman R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. 111 South Wacker Drive Chicago, IL 60606
Dear Members of the Chrysler Board of Directors: I am contacting you today because I am deeply concerned about a public safety issue involving Chrysler cars. I would like you to know that although I am writing about a concern, I understand the very difficult economic times your company is facing and as a UAW member myself, I along with so many Americans, hope that Chrysler survives these difficult times and once again becomes one of America’s most successful businesses. My concern revolves around the 30 million Chrysler vehicles on the road or in used car lots today that were purchased prior to the company emerging from bankruptcy. As you know, your company is no longer responsible for injuries or deaths caused by defective cars purchased prior to the bankruptcy. Chrysler shed that responsibility during the bankruptcy process, which left hundreds of Chrysler victims who had pending claims with nothing and puts public safety at risk throughout America.
This concerns me because my life has been impacted by a defective Chrysler vehicle. I have been waiting for the day to tell you how the park-to-reverse defect that Chrysler alone engineered and manufactured has impacted my life. On August 3, 2008 my mother, Linda Catalano was killed when her Chrysler Town and Country minivan selfshifted into reverse after she exited the vehicle (known to Chrysler as the park-to-reverse defect.) My mother was found pinned under her van, where she sustained fatal blunt force neck trauma which resulted from the separation of her C-2/C-3 neck vertebrae. Can you imagine having that picture of your loved one in your head for the rest of your life? Shortly after my mother died we learned of this defect, not from Chrysler, not from a recall but from a family friend. This defect has been known to Chrysler for many years and nothing has been done about it. Chrysler knew about this defect before production of the transmission and negligently stood by waiting for injuries and deaths to occur. Chrysler has chosen to continuously put lives at risk and not care about consumer safety. My mother’s life could have been saved, if Chrysler executives cared about saving lives, the lives of the people who purchase your vehicles, the lives of the people who put their trust in this company to do the right thing and produce a safe vehicle. How do you ever expect to be a viable company when this is how you treat your customers? CHRYSLER KNOWINGLY KILLED MY MOTHER by choosing to ignore the overwhelming evidence of this defective product. Now Chrysler has chosen to wash its hands of it like it never happened, you don’t want to take responsibility for your neglect or for the lives you have destroyed. Chrysler has decided to turn its back on my family and many others instead of being held accountable for your malicious actions. You don’t have the decency to face us after you took our mother from us because our reality might be too harsh for you to take in. While you go through your everyday routine pretending like things like this aren’t happening let me tell you what my life has been like since the day Chrysler took my mother from me… Chrysler’s gross negligence has changed my life tremendously. Since my mother’s death I replay in my mind the knock at my door at 1 a.m. in the morning, hours after my mother’s death. I remember screaming and crying and falling to the floor being in total shock not believing what I was hearing. I remember the look on my brothers faces when I had to tell them, absolute devastation. I remember my family having to pull me out of the room when we finally got to see my mother’s body for the first time because I was so hysterical. I remember not wanting to leave the funeral home at night. I would stay crying by my mother’s side until someone pulled me away. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I had no concept of time and my body wouldn’t stop shaking for weeks following my mother’s death. I was in total shock. I have a picture in my head now of my mother being pinned under her van that I can’t forget. I wonder if my mom was in pain when she died. I feel guilty because I wasn’t there to save her or comfort her. I didn’t get to say good-bye to my mom. I didn’t get to tell her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me because Chrysler stole that from me. My mother was my best friend, she was the best grandma a daughter could ask for, she was my emotional security, she was the one who helped me when I needed it, she gave me advice, she was my teacher, she
was my support system because I’m a single mother, she was everything to me. My mother meant the world to me and you took all of that away. I still think about my mom all day long, everyday. I still yearn for her love, her hugs, her kisses and I would do anything to just hear her voice one last time. I cling to the pictures and the memories I have of her because that’s all I have left. I still cry for my mom, for me, for my family and for what we have been through this last year on account of Chrysler. It kills me inside to think that this could have been prevented. It angers me because I have Chrysler to blame. It angers me even more that Chrysler has at this point gotten away with murdering my mother. Murder by definition means “intentional homicide (the taking of another person’s life), without legal justification or provocation,” and that’s exactly what Chrysler did by producing these transmissions with a known defect. When I can’t sleep at night, I often picture the people at Chrysler who made these decisions fast asleep not having any idea what they have put me and my family through. I want to let you know that I will not stop fighting until I get justice for my mother and for all the others who have been put through the same horrific nightmare. I will not stop warning the public about these dangerous vehicles because I wish someone would have warned my family. My mission now is to save other families from going through the shocking devastation that Chrysler has put us through. I will not have innocent lives on my conscience, like Chrysler has chosen to do. I will not sit quietly and let my friends, family, co-workers and fellow Americans innocently get in their cars every day without them knowing that there are dangerous Chrysler vehicles on the road. Even worse, I cannot allow them to go shopping for a used car without them knowing that the Chrysler car they are considering is a bad choice because if it is defective and causes harm, they will be left unprotected. My question for you, as a Board member of Chrysler is, would you let your son, daughter, or other family member drive one of these potentially dangerous cars knowing that they would be left unprotected if a defect caused them harm? I believe consumers deserve to hear your honest answer to this question. I also believe that if you and your fellow Board members stand by this policy of being the only car company in the world to leave consumers unprotected if they are injured or killed by defective vehicles, then Chrysler should go out of its way to communicate with consumers about the risks of buying one of these “Old Chrysler” cars. Consumer groups have already petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking warnings on Chrysler vehicles purchased prior to May 30, when the "New” Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy court. I have attached a copy of a label that I think would be appropriate to post on cars that are sitting on used car lots around the country. It is an image of a skull and bones – warning consumers that if they buy one of these potentially dangerous Chrysler cars, they are on their own if something happens. I have also included a link to video of crash footage from Chrysler Town & Country Mini-Van so that you can see why I am concerned and why consumers deserve to know what the risks are of purchasing a used Chrysler car manufactured prior to the bankruptcy.
I appreciate your time and look forward to your response to my question and concerns. Sincerely, Christina Catalano