French appeals court confirms Volvo guilty over death crash

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

A file photo of a Volvo 850

An appeals court in Eastern France has confirmed the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is guilty over the deaths of two schoolchildren aged nine and ten and the serious injury of a third after a brakes failure caused an accident in 1999.

The Volvo 850 TDI was being driven by a local teacher when it struck the children, who had been on their way to school. Driver Catherine Kohtz later asserted that the brake pedal had become stiff and the brakes themselves unresponsive as she traveled along the steep road.

Expert examination of the vehicle after the crash confirmed that the braking system was flawed. Volvo had known there was a potential issue with the brakes but had not issued a recall of the affected cars for modifications.

The court confirmed Volvo should pay a 200,000 euro fine. The court also confirmed that Kohtz should pay a 300 euro fine and receive a six-month suspended sentence and temporary revocation of her driving license for failure to control the Volvo.

The ruling also said that two French national papers should cover the decision.