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Burn Blamed on Dodge Durango Design

MARSHALL, Texas (CN) - Chrysler's Dodge Durango SUV is dangerously undefended from fuel tank undercarriage strikes, an injured Texas woman claims in court.

Erin Edney, of Gladewater, sued Chrysler Group in Federal Court. Chrysler is a fully owned subsidiary of Italian automaker Fiat.

Edney said she was driving her 2011 Dodge Durango in March 2013 when she ran over metal debris on State Highway 155 in Big Sandy.

"The Durango's fuel tank struck the road debris and the debris penetrated the fuel tank and Ms. Edney's vehicle," the complaint states . "The spilling fuel ignited and engulfed Ms. Edney's vehicle in flames. Ms. Edney attempted to escape her vehicle through the front passenger door and her clothing caught fire. Ms. Edney suffered severe burn injuries as a result."

Edney said the car was not equipped with a fuel tank skid plate or any other kind of protection from undercarriage strikes.

Chrysler "offered an optional fuel tank skid plate but did not provide any information to explain the safety importance of this option and refused to make this important safety device standard equipment," the complaint states. Instead, an exposed plastic fuel tank without a skid plate was installed in the car, Edney says.

Edney seeks damages for negligence and design defect. She is represented by Jeffrey Embrey with Hossley Embrey in Tyler.

Michael Palese, spokesman for Chrysler, declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday because Chrysler has not been served.

"In general, however, polyurethane fuel tanks are the industry standard and have better performance, safety and environmental characteristics than metal tanks, which are actually more susceptible to potential puncture and damage from contact with road surfaces and debris," he said. "Chrysler Group vehicles meet or exceed all applicable federal safety standards and have excellent safety records."

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