Kelly Holleran Jul. 25, 2013, 9:36am

A Beaumont man claims he has been able to drive his truck after Chrysler failed to fix a fractured tie rod ball stud that causes his truck to shake uncontrollably at speeds of more than 70 miles per hour.

Justin Duff filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court against Chrysler Group and Mike Smith Autoplex Dodge, doing business as Mike Smith Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

In his complaint, Duff alleges he visited Mike Smith at 1945 Interstate 10 South in Beaumont in August 2011 where he was persuaded to buy a 2011 Dodge Ram 250 pickup truck. However, unbeknownst to Duff at the time of the purchase, the truck’s left tie rod ball stud had fractured, according to the complaint.

“When the vehicle either hits a bump or approaches 70 miles per hour, it begins to shake violently and becomes very difficult to steer and control,” the suit states. “Said defect renders the vehicle ‘unreasonably dangerous,’ as that term is defined by Texas law.”

Even though the salesperson for Mike Smith knew of the defect, he convinced Duff to drive the vehicle on roads where the speed limit did not exceed 65 miles per hour, the complaint says.

Almost immediately after his purchase of the vehicle, Duff claims he grew seriously concerned about its violent shaking. He informed Chrysler and Mike Smith of his worries, and the dealership attempted to repair the vehicle numerous times, according to the complaint. Still, the shaking would not stop, the suit states.

Despite their inability to resolve the truck’s problems, Chrysler and Mike Smith failed to replace the vehicle, rescind the sales contract or refund Duff, the complaint says. In turn, Duff claims he is unable to operate the truck.

Duff alleges negligence, fraud and breach of warranty against the defendants.

He seeks actual, treble and punitive damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest legal rate, costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief the court deems just.

Ryan M. Schaper of Provost and Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing him.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B194-531

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