Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Jeep Manufacturer After Anton Yelchin's Death
In the wake of Anton Yelchin‘s tragic accidental death, a proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alleging the car manufacturer did little to correct a confusing gearshift design in its vehicles.
In court documents filed Thursday by national firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and obtained by Deadline, four plaintiffs charge that there was an “unreasonable delay” in fixing what they call a “defective” gear shifter in Fiat Chrysler vehicles.
The shifter – which led to a voluntary recall of 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s, and 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees in early 2015 – gives no “tactile or position feedback as to whether the car has been actually placed into the safe-to-exit ‘park’ gear,” according to the lawsuit. In addition, the suit claims there is no safety override – something present in many other car models, the suit adds – that automatically puts the car in park if the driver’s door is open and there is no pressure on the foot break.
The plantiffs, who are all owners of Fiat Chrysler cars, say that there have been over 300 accidents reported because of the gear shift design, and cite Yelchin’s death.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said: “The Company declines the opportunity to comment at this time as we have not yet been served with this lawsuit.”
The Star Trek actor’s body was found last weekend pinned between his car and the gate of his home in Studio City, California, after his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was left in neutral mode, rolled backward down the steep driveway. The death was ruled accidental by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, and police are currently investigating whether the gearshift design was a factor in the circumstances surrounding Yelchin’s death.
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Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP’s suit seeks to force Fiat Chrysler to fix all vehicles with the shifter, and compensate owners for the loss of value. In addition, the complaint – which was filed in federal court – also seeks punitive damages for fraud, and a temporary replacement car for all owners.
As of April, the automaker was aware of 41 injuries potentially related to the shifter, the company said in a statement.
The company asserted, however, that the vehicles involved in the accidents were inspected and “no evidence of equipment failure was found.” They added that the vehicles have “warning chimes” and lights that let the driver know what gear the car is in.