Jeep Grand Cherokee shifter

From my American Association for Justice daily news – the design of this shifter sounds like it goes against things I use to queue myself, namely the physical position of the shifter.

Parents of Star Trek star crushed by faulty car file wrongful death suit against Fiat Chrysler.

News that Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin’s parents announced through their attorney Tuesday that they have filed a wrongful death and product-liability suit against Fiat Chrysler generated significant media coverage. ABC News (8/2, Messer, 4.15M) reports online that Gary Dordick, Victor and Irina Yelchin’s attorney, said at a press conference Tuesday the couple had filed suit seeking an undisclosed sum in “punitive damages because we believe Fiat Chrysler, ZF North America, that made and manufactured and sold this product, knew that it was defective.” Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway on June 19, pinning the young actor against his entry gate and ultimately killing him. Citing an AP report, ABC adds the vehicle was one of “more than 1 million vehicles recalled by Fiat Chrysler because its gear shift did not clearly indicate whether or not it was in park.” Dordick showed the press “a recall letter that Fiat Chrysler sent to the late actor seven days after his death.” An NHTSA report indicated that the “defect led to almost 700 complaints, 266 crashes and fires, and 68 injury incidents” as of June 24. The lawsuit also includes retail chain AutoNation and the company that made the gear shifter, ZF North America, according to Rolling Stone (8/2, Blistein, 14.65M).

CBS Evening News (8/2, story 9, 0:25, Rose, 11.17M) broadcast coverage of the announcement, reporting the car model was “recalled because its gear shifter was confusing to drivers” – some thought the vehicle was it park when it was actually in neutral. Consumerist (8/2, Kieler, 45K) explains that the vehicles’ electronic gear shifter differs from a traditional shifter because it “is simply moved forward and backward to select gear” and, “once the gear has been selected, the shifter returns to the centered position.” This design “lacks the typical grooves and sensation of moving the car into Park, Drive, or Reverse” associated with the traditional gear shifter.

According to the AP (8/2, McCartney), Fiat Chrysler offered Yelchin’s family its sympathies but declined to comment on the suit. The company will accelerate the recall and, along with the NHTSA, is urging affected drivers to “set their parking brakes before getting out of their vehicles.” The company is also facing a suit filed by law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLC, CNN Money (8/2, Melas, 3.1M) reports, on behalf of “owners of these particular models and seeking unspecified damages.”

TIME (8/2, Chan, 17.97M) reports the actor’s father, Victor Yelchin, said at the press conference, “In spite of our unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families from the same tragedy. …Anton was our only son, and he was a remarkable human being – very modest, very simple, very honest, generous, loving.” He added, “It is wrong, it’s against nature, when the parents bury its own child. That’s why we hope that this lawsuit will make [another] family never go through the same hell we’re going through right now.”

Sources offering similar coverage of the accident and lawsuit include Reuters (8/2, Sinha-Roy), AFP (8/2), and Ars Technica (8/2, Farivar, 1.17M).

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