Lawsuit filed over fire accident that killed six people

Family members of the six people killed in a Gwinnett County fire accident say they don’t blame the driver for the accident, but the van shouldn’t have been on the road at all, according to a newly filed lawsuit.

Family members of women in a sober group home who were killed and injured in a collision with a burning van last year are suing a car company and the group home, saying the 2002 Dodge Ram was prone to tipping over and was improperly maintained.

“I pray because I still cry every day. I’m not done yet,” said Tamika Gooden.

“She was more than a recovering addict. So much more, and that’s my main goal, to keep her legacy alive and to honor her in death as I would in life,” said Michal Taylor.

For Tamika Gooden and Michael Taylor, April 2021 changed their lives forever.

Her loved ones were two of the sixteen ladies aboard a passenger carriage.

Lawsuit filed over fire accident that killed six women

Family members of women in a sober group home who were killed and injured in a burning van crash last year have filed a lawsuit.

Shortly before the crash in April, a vehicle in front of the passenger car unexpectedly changed lanes on a Georgia freeway, police said at the time. The van then went out of control, rolled on its side and slid across two lanes, bursting into flames and killing six women inside, police said in an accident report. Ten survivors of the crash were taken to hospitals.

The flames quickly grew as bystanders tried to rescue the motorists from the burning van, witnesses later reported.

Many of the victims were part of a sober living community called We Are Living Proof, a group that has been named as one of the accused in half a dozen lawsuits. They were filed this week in Gwinnett County, where the wreck occurred along Interstate 85 northeast of Atlanta. The organization routed calls Thursday to an Atlanta attorney who did not immediately return phone messages.

Gwinnett County Police are investigating a fire accident that killed six people along I-85 near I-985 in April 2021. (FOX 5)

The lawsuits also name the Chrysler Group and its parent company Stellantis, who allege that the van was poorly designed and had a tendency to roll over. Messages left with the Stellantis media relations team were not immediately returned Thursday.

“This was a relatively minor tipping over,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Alan Hamilton, said in a statement. “Everyone should have walked away. It is a tragedy that these women were caught in a fiery inferno because of the design of the vehicle.”

“The design of the van is at the heart of the lawsuit. The van in question was manufactured in 2002 and sold by Chrysler and Dodge that year,” said Chris Glover of the law firm of Beasley Allen, another attorney for the plaintiffs.

According to lawyers, the van was “tragically unstable”.

“Before it was sold, the National Highway Safety Administration conducted a study on 15 people carriers, including Dodge’s, and found that these vans were three times more likely to tip over when loaded with passengers,” said Chris Glover

The lawsuits also allege that the van’s steering system design was flawed and its fuel system allowed gas and gas vapors to ignite and burn the van’s occupants after the accident.

Gwinnett County Police are investigating a fire accident that killed six people along I-85 near I-985 in April 2021.

Gwinnett County Police are investigating a fire accident that killed six people along I-85 near I-985 in April 2021. (FOX 5)

The driver of the van is currently facing multiple charges, including vehicle murder, but attorneys are hoping those charges will be dropped.

“I would ask the district attorney to drop these charges. She made a mistake and changed lanes late, but changing lanes late is part of everyday driving,” said Glover.

“I just want people to remember my sister for who she was. She loved everyone. I still have people coming up to me and telling me what a good person she was,” said Tamikak Gooden.

“The ladies were being labeled as recovering addicts and that was probably the most discouraging part for me because my mom was my mom. She was a teacher and someone who helped other people. I want her to be known for more than just a recovering addict. said Michael Taylor.

WATCH: FOX 5 NEWS LIVE COVERAGE

The Associated Press contributed to this report