FOURTH CLASS-ACTION SUIT FILED OVER MINIVAN LATCHES

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Chrysler Corp. faces a fourth class-action lawsuit charging that the rear doors on its popular Voyager, Caravan and Town and Country minivans are prone to fly open in collisions.

The rear liftgates on 1984-94 models have opened in 51 accidents, with 74 passengers thrown out and 25 people killed, according to reports submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for fraud, violations of consumer protection laws, breach of warranty and negligence.

It does not seek money for personal injuries.

The suit, filed Dec. 12 in San Mateo County Superior Court, is the first to address damages for the estimated 4 million U.S. owners of Chrysler 1984-94 minivans, plaintiffs' lawyer Michael F. Ram said. Suits in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama may later be combined with the California action, Ram said.

Chrysler had no comment on the suits, spokesman Rick Deneau said.

Deneau said injuries could have been avoided if passengers in the minivans had been properly seated and wearing seat belts.

The 1995 minivans have been fitted with a stronger latch, Deneau said.

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