A class action lawsuit filed against Jeep Grand Cherokee manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles cites the death of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin as evidence of the vehicle’s poor manufacturing.
Filed by the law firm Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP on behalf of Deryl Wall, Justine Andollo, Danielle and Joby Hackett, the suit accuses the company of an “unreasonable delay” in fixing a defect in 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees that was known to create a “rollaway” risk.
The problem lies with the vehicle’s gear shifter, which has a design the suit says is “dangerously defective because there is no tactile or position feedback to the operator as to whether the care has actually been placed into the safe-to-exit ‘park’ gear.”
Yelchin was found dead on Sunday, stuck between his own car and a brick mailbox at his San Fernando Valley, California home, police told TheWrap. Yelchin’s vehicle reportedly was a late-model Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The class action suit suggests Yelchin’s death may have been related to the “rollaway” risk that caused the manufacturer to issue a recall in April. However, the FCA said the connection was “premature” in a statement issued Monday.
The complaint accuses FCA of delaying its response, only issuing a recall of “over 811,000” vehicles in the U.S. in April, despite the facts that reports date back to early 2015. “FCA’s unreasonable delay in fixing the defect and its warning letter was obviously too little, too late for Mr. Yelchin,” the complaint says.
According to a report by FCA, the company had identified approximately 700 field reports potentially related to the issue, which included 212 crashes, 308 claims of property damage and 41 injuries as of April 12.
The plaintiffs call for punitive damages for fraud, the immediate replacement of the defective gear shifter, a temporary replacement car and compensation for any additional costs owners may have incurred.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.