Monday, May 25, 2009


My trip to DC

Any one who read last Thursday's edition of the Indianapolis Star knows that I flew to DC on Wednesday to testify on Thursday before the House of Representative's Judicial Committee on the impact of Chrysler's bankruptcy on people who have been injured by their products. You may have also heard mention of this on our local FOX news on Wednesday night, or our local NBC news on Thursday morning. Or, you may have heard the post-hearing interview that I did with WIBC over a cell phone while I was in a cab heading back to the hotel. It was a whirlwind trip. I received a call from my attorney's office on Tuesday evening asking if I could get on a plane Wednesday to testify in DC on Thursday.

While I was on this trip I became far more aware of how this issue will affect others. Before the trip I was only thinking about how this affected people like me who have current liability lawsuits against Chrysler. I hadn't fully grasped the potential this issue has to affect everyone. The current plan will free Chrysler from liability on any vehicle sold before the bankruptcy. That means that, going forward, Chrysler will not be liable for any injury caused by a defective Chrysler vehicle that is on the road today. If GM follows suit, which they will, then no one will be liable for any injuries caused by the majority of American made vehicles on the road today. What kind of car do you drive? If it's a GM or Chrysler product you may as well slap a label on it that says "drive at own risk"!

Please understand, our money is being used to absolve Chrysler of any present or future injury caused by it's vehicles that are on the road today, and unless the Administration changes the plan before this Wednesday, we will pay for GM's absolution as well! This use of our taxes will cause direct harm to approximately 300 people who have current Tort (injury) claims against Chrysler, but it has the potential to harm every American citizen. Even if you decided never to ride in a GM or Chrysler vehicle again you could still get injured by a vehicle that hits you due to a defective part! Our government has a responsibility to use our taxes in a manner that does not cause harm to the American people. Financing a plan with our tax dollars that relieves Chrysler, or any other manufacturer, of liability is irresponsible, unethical, and immoral! I'm not saying that we shouldn't finance these bankruptcies, I'm just saying that if our money is being used then the plan should reflect our best interests and protect us in the process!

When I learned that I would be testifying I hoped that I would be able to deliver this message. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the hotel the situation had changed. I was no longer going to be allowed to testify. For whatever reason (political pressure) the focus of the committee hearing had changed from the impact of the bankruptcy on victims of design defects in Chrysler vehicles to the impact on the dealerships, more specifically the minority owned dealerships. Consumer Advocates Ralph Nader, Clarence Ditlow, and Joan Claybrook would be speaking about the liability issue. (I got to meet them and they were all very nice!) Instead of testifying I would have the opportunity to speak at a press conference before the hearing. We thought this actually might be a better situation because it would get the issue on to national television which would have a stronger chance of getting the Administration's attention.

Unfortunately, the press didn't show up for the press conference. I did have the opportunity to have my statement recorded on video, but I'm not sure what will happen with that video. I believe the hope was to send it to the national media, but I'm just not sure where it will go. I did attend the hearing and was introduced to the committee, but I was only allowed to stand up and thank them for holding the hearing. My testimony was never heard. Later, after the hearing was over I was told that my presence in the room was extremely important and that it had an impact on the congressmen on the committee. The committee decided that it would send a bi-partisan group to the White House the next day to raise the issues with them.

I didn't get home until about 1am on Friday morning. After I woke up (around 10:00am Friday morning) I called the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee's office to ensure that they were still going to the White House and to ask that they please include the liability issues when they spoke to the administration. Unfortunately the plan had changed again and they were not taking a bi-partisan group to the White House after all. However, I was assured that they were still bringing these issues to the Administration's attention and that (even though it did not get attention during the hearing) the liability/tort claim issues were extremely important and would not be forgotten.

The political high point of the trip for me was visiting Senator Lugar's office to thank him for expressing concern about this issue and forwarding my story on to the President's Automotive Task Force. He was in a meeting when I visited, but I did get to meet the staff person who has been communicating with me. Hopefully someday I will find myself in a position where I can thank the Senator personally.

I have made several attempts to contact CNN and the national offices of ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX News. As of yet the only responses that I have received are automated. I want to thank all of you who have reached out to your Legislator's, I truly appreciate your assistance. With any luck we will manage to get this on the national media before Wednesday. If not, I can only hope that we have done all we can and that the message has gotten through!

Jeremy- Thanks for the post- Good information- Matt
what is that movie...oh yea," Mr. Holland Opus goes to Washington" right? I could be wrong..sorry, I have no real reason for this posting other than I am so proud to say I know you and I am your friend...I trust that our government and our people under God will only see the wrongful ways of our big corporations who only get rich off of the little people and their misfortunes. I could go on and on however, your blog is meant to bring a bit of closer to your accident and the guided path you have been taken, my friend Jeremy may the footsteps you put on Congress, DC and others today be followed by a 2nd set of footprints in the sand..I love that along peacefully my friend knowing you are being carried as well...
Love ya..this time we go for ice cream..
See ya soon..

I have contacted a friend of mine at Channel 8 news. I will let you know what or if she responds. I am just so sorry that I didn't think of it earlier. Hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend with friends and family. Regards, Mary
Thanks Mary. I'm somewhat to blame as well. Perhaps, instead of asking people to write to their Legislators, I should have asked people to write to the national and local media!
Your welcome...


Debby Knox from Channel 8 will be in contact with you, since I don't have a phone number for you, i am going to give you her number...956-8563.

Good Luck...Mary
Local media should be able to do something I mean for pete's sake the "pool ladies of Alexandria" were featured in USATODAY...they are from Indiana. Their main concern was getting a pool open for summer, I believe this falls in a much higher category. Good luck and I'll keep my eyes/ears open for more chances to spread the word.
Love ya;
Jeremy...Wish I had known this a few weeks ago..Went to the new Kroger at 71st and Binford...Channel 13 was there..I still work at the Kroger office and ran into one of our advertising guys...said Sen. Lugar was there. something to do with the Boy Scouts..went right up to him and we had a great chat....we went to Shortridge together...he was a few years ahead of me...that would have been a perfect time to bring this up...keep trying..he will listen...good guy...will do what I can with the info you gave us...Keep slugging...Mrs. B
Jeremy I saw the story you did with Channel 6 and Rafael Sanchez. Here's the link if anybody wants to see the story and there is also a piture of the jeep after the fire scary is that.
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