In what seems to be a growing trend, Volvo cars was found guilty of manslaughter in a 1999 accident. Just a few weeks ago, a former Mitsubishi Motors head and several other executives were found guilty in the death of a man driving a defective truck that went out of control and hit a wall. The woman at the wheel of the Volvo in 1999 struck and killed two children after her brakes failed.
Volvo denies that any mechanical failure was to blame for the horrific accident, but a French court has ruled it was in fact a brake failure that caused the accident, reports BBC News
. The driver of the Volvo 850 TDI, Catherine Kohtz, also received a six-month suspended sentence and a $446 fine. Volvo was fined 200,000 euros, although it plans to appeal the decision, insisting there was no problem with the brakes.
The Mitsubishi Motors executives found guilty in the death of the truck driver were found to have failed to issue a recall for a faulty clutch housing. The Japanese court held that if they had done so, the crash and subsequent death of the driver could have been avoided. The executives knew of the fault but chose to conduct secret repairs rather than face a public recall, according to Automotive News
. The executives were all given suspended sentences.
While it certainly isn't groundbreaking, legally speaking, for executives and corporations to be held responsible for their negligence, the incidence of these cases seems to be increasing. And the success rate of the prosecution seems to be similarly high. While that might be a worrisome prospect for the manufacturers, it can only serve as motivation to ensure the highest possible safety standards and practices - especially in the face of recalls for defective equipment. Unfortunately, it is the consumer that will ultimately foot the bill for such caution, but perhaps by distributing the cost on a per-car basis, we can avoid forcing a few of us to pay the ultimate price.