A class action lawsuit seeks compensation for owners of the Jeep Grand Cherokee model that crushed Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin to death, as well as for owners of Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300 sedans built with the same gearshift that is blamed for Yelchin's death.
Investigators said Yelchin had gotten out of his car to check his mailbox, apparently thinking he had put it in park. Instead the Jeep rolled forward and crushed the 27-year-old actor against a concrete post, one of hundreds of accidents involving FCA US products with an e-shift system.
"This case concerns the simple task of shifting a vehicle into park," the lawsuit states, according to Courthouse News Service. "FCA has taken the simple process, traditionally straightforward and free from confusion, and implemented a defective and dangerous gear-shifting mechanism."
"In short, FCA replaced the traditional gearshift with a joystick and failed to consider the implications to consumer safety," the complaint alleges.
In a statement, FCA said the lawsuit was unnecessary.
"This lawsuit is moot as FCA US has already implemented the remedy it seeks. Moreover, the vehicles addressed in this action are among the most valued and sought after vehicles on the road today. Allegations that their resale value is somehow diminished by a recall are completely unsubstantiated," FCA US said in an email to ConsumerAffairs.
Chrysler issued a recall on April 22, 2016, for 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees, as well as 2012-14 Chrysler 300s and Dodge Chargers, in order to add an additional part to enhance the Jeeps’ monostable gear selector.
When it announced the recall, Chrysler sent a letter to owners promising to find a fix to the problem by the fourth quarter of 2016. However, it didn't say when that fix would actually become available.
"Given Chrysler’s recent recall efforts in fire-prone Jeeps, owners would be potentially subject to lengthy delays when seeking a remedy," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. He called on Chrysler to provide free loaners until the problem can be fixed.
In the lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, Grand Cherokee owners Janella Mack and Michael Cruz ask that Chrysler be ordered to advise owners to stop driving the vehicles until they are fixed and they ask that owners be awarded financial compensation.
The lawsuit argues that the e-shift system never truly shifts or locks into a gear position when the car is turned off, putting nearly a million drivers at risk of property damage and personal injury.