Class Seeks Recall of Jeep Grand Cherokee

     BROOKLYN (CN) — In the wake of a fatal accident involving a Jeep Grand Cherokee that took a young Star Trek actor’s life, a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn is demanding the vehicle be recalled by manufacturers.
     In July 2015, the federal government slapped Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with a record $105 million judgment to spur an overhaul of the automaker’s safety and recall practices.
     But the controversy over the safety of FCA vehicles flared anew on June 19, when the 27-year-old actor Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was fatally pinned by his car after it rolled down the steep driveway of his L.A. home.
     In a class action filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on July 26, Grand Cherokee owners Janella Mack and Michael Cruz say it’s high time something is done about their vehicle’s safety defect.
     “This case concerns the simple task of shifting a vehicle into park,” their attorneys opined in the opening of their complaint.
     “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 plaintiffs say.     
     Fiat Chrysler called the lawsuit moot, noting it has already implemented the sought-after remedy.
     “Moreover, the vehicles addressed in this action are among the most valued and sought after vehicles on the road today,” the company said in a statement. “Allegations that their resale value is somehow diminished by a recall are completely unsubstantiated.”
     FCA had installed the new e-shift gearshifts in its 2014-2015 models of Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Dodge Charges, and its 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 sedans.
     But, plaintiffs argue, 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 because they will “inadvertently fail to park their vehicles while their vehicle is still running.”
     Plaintiffs say that because the e-shift system doesn’t work like traditional gear shifts, hundreds of unknowing drivers have left their cars thinking they were pushed into park, and that the cars rolled away without them.
     Plaintiffs say other competing car manufacturers have successfully implemented similar electronic gear shift assemblies that automatically puts the car they’re driving into neutral when the driver’s door is opened or the foot brake is released.
     Such a safety other manufactures have implemented “prevents the type of rollaway incidents that plague owners of the defective vehicles and illustrates the necessity of designing fail-safe mechanisms for unfamiliar new vehicle technologies.”
     The situation creates an “unreasonable risk of harm to drivers, passengers and bystanders,” attorneys say.
     The plaintiffs want restitution, and an order to force FCA to issue a warning not to drive its vehicles.
     They are represented by Stephen Fearon Jr. with Squitieri Fearon in Manhattan.

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