Gary Dordickreader comments 106
Share this story
The family of the late Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against Fiat Chrysler (FCA), alleging that because of a “defective design and/or manufacture” on his 2015 Jeep, the 27-year-old was killed.
According to the lawsuit, Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee had a defective monostable gear selector. Last month, Yelchin parked his Jeep at the top of his steep driveway at his home in Studio City, California, believing he had put it properly into park. However, the car seems to have rolled down the driveway quickly, pinning him to the gate, trapping him there, and eventually killing him.
The civil complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, says that not only was Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep affected, but as family lawyer Gary Dordick noted:
As well as the design and/or manufacture of the Subject Gear Selector were defective in that the Subject Gear Selector has an unfamiliar movement that is not intuitive and that provides poor tactile and visual feedback to drivers, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection and vehicle rollaway.
Drivers could exit these vehicles when the engine is running and the transmission is not in PARK, resulting in unattended vehicle rollaway.
Further, the Subject Vehicle – and these other certain vehicles, including the 2012-2014 Dodge Charger, 2012-2014 300, 2014 Dodge Durango, 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee failed to include sufficient rollaway prevention features as well as sufficient warning features and/or measures so as to prevent drivers from exiting these vehicles with the engine running and the transmission not in PARK and/or to avoid vehicle rollaway.
In July 2015, FCA issued a safety recall for Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep over concerns that its onboard computer was vulnerable to hacking.
In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reported in June 2016 that it had received hundreds of complaints specifically about the shifter issue.
FCA then recalled the 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees as a result.
In that recall, FCA wrote:
Your vehicle may roll away, striking and injuring you, your passengers, or bystanders, if the vehicle’s engine is left running, the parking brake is not engaged, and the transmission is not in the “PARK” position before exiting the vehicle.
Drivers may inadvertently fail to achieve the “PARK” position before exiting the vehicle.
The electronic shift lever in your vehicle does not move like a conventional shifter. Your shift lever is spring-loaded and returns to the same center position like a joystick, always returning to the center position after the desired gear is selected.
FCA did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, but it told The Verge that the company “extends its sympathies to the Yelchin family for their tragic loss” and reminded drivers to consult their owners’ manual and to heed the recall.