The parents of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler after the 27-year old was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway and pinned him against a mailbox.
FCA equipped 2014-2015 model year Grand Cherokees and 2012-14 model year Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s with an electronic shifter that would return to a centered position after a gear was selected. The unintuitive operation meant some drivers would think they had put the car in ‘Park’ but had actually selected ‘Neutral’ or another gear.
The suit, which involves four plaintiffs total, alleges Yelchin “went back to his house to retrieve something. He left his vehicle and was on his way out at the time, believing his vehicle was in park,” when it rolled down the driveway and pinned him against a brick mailbox. It also claims there was an “unreasonable,” delay in recalling vehicles with the shifters.
FCA has since begun recalling vehicles with the shift mechanism. Now, vehicles equipped with the shifter will sound a chime and display a warning message on the dash if a door is opened and the vehicle is not in ‘Park.’ The Yelchin family’s attorney said the recall was “way too little and way too late,” and added FCA “should have never used this device.”
In a statement FCA said it had not yet been served with the lawsuit so it could not comment on the matter, but extended its sympathies to the Yelchin family.
“FCA US LLC extends its sympathies to the Yelchin family for their tragic loss,” the automaker’s statement read. “FCA US urges customers to follow the instructions in their owners manuals and the information cards sent with their recall notices. These instructions include advising customers to set the parking brakes in their vehicles before exiting.”