The 27-year-old actor died in a car crash and his untimely demise has fueled a $5 million class-action lawsuit. Jeep owners are suing Fiat Chrysler, the manufacturer of Grand Cherokee jeeps, arguing that a faulty gearshift is responsible for more than 300 deaths – Yelchin’s included.
The actor’s vehicle was reportedly among the 1.1 million cars included in a massive FCA recall. Fiat issued the recall because the vehicles posed the risk of rolling away after drivers exited, which is exactly what happened in Yelchin’s case.
Law firm Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of three plaintiffs, who claim the automaker took too long to fix the defect creating a “rollaway” risk in 2014-15 Grand Cherokee Jeeps. That “unreasonable delay” ended tragically for some vehicle owners such as Yelchin.
Deadline obtained the court documents [pdf], which allege that FCA broke a basic safety rule: the proper functioning of the gear shifter, which ensures that a stationary vehicle remains stationary until an operator wants to move it.
The issue stems from the car’s gear shift design, the lawsuit alleges, detailing that the operator gets no feedback on whether the car actually entered the “park” gear where it’s safe to exit.