LOS ANGELES  Jeep Grand Cherokee owners today filed a national class-action lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler stating that it fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents, resulting in injuries, accidents and other serious unintended consequences, according to Hagens Berman.

Affected vehicles include: 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 and 2012-2014 Dodge Charger. If you own or lease an affected vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. Find out more about the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that due to Fiat Chrysler’s concealment of both the shifter design defect and hundreds of accidents causing property damage and injury that might have been avoided, the “raft of negative publicity” upon disclosure has caused the value of affected vehicles to greatly diminish. “In light of the stigma attached to those vehicles by FCA’s conduct, they are now worth significantly less than they otherwise would be,” the suit states.

According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the defect that has been responsible for at least 41 injuries has been in the headlines recently, following the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who was killed in his own driveway when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway and pinned him against his brick mailbox.

“In making these vehicles, Fiat Chrysler failed at adequately and responsibly designing one of the most basic safety features – the gear shifter,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “The current shifters in these affected vehicles leave drivers with insufficient feedback to tell whether the car has actually been placed in park before they exit the vehicle, and it does not have a safety override that automatically puts the car in ‘park’ if the driver’s door is opened and pressure taken off the foot brake.”

Fiat Chrysler initiated a recall of 1.1 million cars worldwide equipped with the defectively designed shifter but has yet to provide any fix.

“In its 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s, and 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees, FCA installed gear shifters, designed and manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen AG, that departed from the long-established ‘PRND’ gear selector in favor of an electronic mechanism that never actually ‘shifts’ into any gear, but rather always moves back to a central location after being engaged,” the lawsuit states.  “The ZF Shifter design is dangerously defective because there is no tactile or position feedback to the operator as to whether the car has actually been placed into the safe-to-exit ‘park’ gear and there is no safety override that automatically puts the car in ‘park’ if the driver’s door is open and pressure taken off the foot brake.”

“Instead of following its self-declared ‘safety first’ mission and issuing a remedy to this hazardous design defect affecting hundreds of thousands of vehicles, Fiat Chrysler has chosen to drag its feet on a repair and do the bare minimum – merely sending a letter to registered owners describing the defect,” Berman added. “We think it’s well past time for Fiat Chrysler to take responsibility for its mistakes and take these cars off the road until and unless it fixes them.”

The lawsuit seeks recovery for vehicles owners’ losses including diminished vehicle value due to the design defect, as well as recoveries for other damages and an injunctive order to end Fiat Chrysler’s allegedly deceptive practices.

Rollaways of vehicles inadvertently left out of “park” have reportedly caused hundreds of crashes, dozens of injuries and a fatality.

Learn more about the lawsuit and rollaway defect affecting Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger vehicles.


About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.