DaimlerChrysler ordered to pay for accident
German auto maker DaimlerChrysler has been ordered to pay 280,000 yuan (US$38,000) in compensation to Cai Zhuangqin from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, over a defective airbag that led to the death of his son, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Tuesday.
The marathon legal case began in January 2000, following the fatal accident on January 31, 1999, when Cai Yanpeng was driving the Benz S320 on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen motorway.
The seatbelt was found to have broken and the airbag failed to pop up. Cai considered the faulty airbag to be the major cause of the accident.
The Dongguan Intermediate People's Court ruled that the company's defective product directly led to the death of Cai Yanpeng.
"I have been waiting for this verdict for 68 months," the 50-year-old father said after the ruling.
One of the major reasons for the slow progress of the case was that the auto maker demanded the indictment be sent to its Germany-based headquarters through diplomatic channels.
This obstacle was removed in June 2002, when the Supreme People's Court ruled that judicial documents can be sent to the representative agency in China when foreign agencies are involved in judicial cases.
The case was finally heard at Dongguan Intermediate People's Court on September 5, 2003.
"It's really a tough job to sue a foreign auto giant like DaimlerChrysler," Cai was quoted as saying.
"But I persisted in doing so to seek justice for my dead son since the auto maker must be responsible for its defective product," Cai added.
Cai's case marks the first victory for consumers on the Chinese mainland in the lawsuit against the maker of the Benz cars, said the lawyer representing Cai.
"The verdict will provide an example for the nation's courts to hear cases involving cross-border disputes," added the lawyer.