November 15, 2014 / 11:43 PM / 4 years ago

Fiat Chrysler CEO ordered to give deposition in Jeep fire lawsuit: WSJ

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, speaks with the media before ringing the closing bell to celebrate the company's listing at the New York Stock Exchange, October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

(Reuters) - A judge has ordered Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N), to give a deposition in a Georgia lawsuit involving a 4-year-old boy killed in a Jeep fuel-tank fire, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

According to a civil suit filed by the boy’s family two years ago, he died while sitting in the rear seat of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee which was hit from behind, it said. The Jeep’s fuel tank ruptured, and fire engulfed the back of the car.

“Judge J. Kevin Chason of the Superior Court of Decatur County Georgia denied Fiat Chrysler’s request to exclude the CEO from out-of-court testimony in a court filing Friday and has ordered the company make Mr. Marchionne available for a videotaped, under-oath deposition,” the Journal said.

In June 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Chrysler announced the recall of 1.56 million Jeep SUVs with rear fuel tanks because of an increased risk of fire in the event of a rear-end crash. The agency had counted 51 deaths related to the issue. Affected vehicles were model years 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee.

The Journal said the company declined to comment on the lawsuit. A Fiat Chrysler spokesman reiterated the company’s position that the Jeeps are safe and not defective, the paper added.

Jeb Butler, an Atlanta-based attorney representing the family in the lawsuit, said the deposition will take place in a few months, the Journal said. A trial date for the lawsuit is set for March 2015.

Writing by Mohammad Zargham, Editing by Franklin Paul

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