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Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP Investigates Potential Claims against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“Fiat Chrysler”) on Behalf of Car Owners and Lessees

On Sunday, June 19, 2016, actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his role as Chekov in the recent reboot of the Star Trek movies, died when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a metal security gate.  Yelchin’s Jeep was one of several models recently recalled due to a “rollaway risk.”  Although investigations continue concerning the cause of Yelchin’s death, owners of the recalled vehicles may have suffered economic harm.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) launched its initial investigation of the electronic gear shifter following reports of more than 300 Grand Cherokee rollaway incidents resulting in 117 crashes and 28 injuries.  In August of 2015, NHTSA brought driver complaints about the gear shifter to Fiat Chrysler’s attention.  It wasn’t until April 2016 that the recall was announced.  However, by that time, Fiat Chrysler received 700 complaints, including more than 200 crashes and at least 41 injuries, related to a gear shifter issue. 

The complaints typically involved the drivers’ belief that the vehicle was safely in the parking gear, only to exit the vehicle and the vehicle rolled away.  NHTSA noted that the automaker reluctantly agreed to recall the vehicles, “at NHTSA”s urging.” 

“Drivers thinking that their vehicle’s transmission is in the Park position may be struck by the vehicle and injured if they attempt to get out of the vehicle while the engine is running and the parking brake is not engaged,” NHTSA wrote in a report.

According to reports, the monostable gear selector design has caused confusion for vehicle owners.  A possible solution to the confusion is to install “Auto Park” software in the affected vehicle, which would prevent the vehicles from moving when the driver’s side door is open and the shifter is not in park. 

Below is a list of the affected vehicles with that are the subject of the recall:

• Jeep Grand Cherokee (model years 2014 – 2015)
• Chrysler 300 (model years 2012 – 2014)
• Dodge Charger (model years 2012 – 2014)

In total, Fiat Chrysler is recalling over 1.1 million vehicles.

Kessler Topaz is investigating potential class action claims on behalf of owners or lessees of the affected vehicles.  If you currently own or lease one of the affected vehicles, and would like to learn more about our investigation, please fill out our online form, or contact us today at 888-299-7706 or by email at info@ktmc.com.

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