Gearshift Design Defect Blamed for Actor’s Accidental Death


Earlier this month, the entertainment industry and film fans worldwide were shocked by the freak accident that claimed the life of popular actor Anton Yelchin. Now, his death has launched a flurry of lawsuits against manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, including a proposed class-in which four plaintiffs allege an “unreasonable delay” in addressing a defective gearshift issue that can cause vehicles to roll unexpectedly.


The 27-year-old veteran actor perhaps best known for his role in 2009’s Star Trek (a role he’ll reprise posthumously in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, slated for release July 22) was found pinned between his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a brick pillar in the driveway of his Studio City, CA home on the morning of June 19. Yelchin was declared dead later that day and a medical examiner with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office ruled the cause of death as blunt traumatic asphyxia.


Yelchin’s vehicle was among some Fiat Chrysler models under a recall notice for transmission problems that can cause affected automobiles to roll unexpectedly. The volunteer recall affects 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s, and 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Complaints show that recalled vehicles give no indication as to whether they have been placed into the safe-to-exit park gear and lack the safety override that automatically puts the car in park if the driver’s door is open and there is no pressure on the foot brake – a feature included in many other car models.


An investigation shows that at the time of Yelchin’s death, not a single vehicle affected by the recall had been repaired. If you believe your vehicle is among those recalled and you’ve suffered no loss connected to the defect, head to your nearest Fiat Chrysler or Jeep dealer for a free-of-charge repair. However, if you or someone you love has been injured or lost in an accident that you believe may have been caused by this or any manufacturing defect, keep the vehicle intact and call 800-251-1111 to schedule a consultation with a dedicated product liability or personal injury attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.