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"Star Trek" Actor's Death Puts Spotlight on Jeep Cherokee Recall

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 21-Jun-2016

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri
Posted by Salvatore J, Zambri, founding member and partner.

At the urging of the NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) made an unusual recall of 1.1 million SUVs and sedans, including the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was involved in the death of "Star Trek" actor, Anton Yelchin. He was pinned against a brick mailbox pillar and security fence when his vehicle rolled backward down his driveway.

In April, 2016, FCA identified 202 crashes and 41 injuries possibly related to the issue, but claimed that there was no equipment failure for the vehicles. After hundreds of drivers complained to the NHTSA that it was not possible to tell whether their vehicles were in neutral or park, NHTSA stated, “Until all of these recalled vehicles are fixed, owners should take extra care to make sure their car is in park and turned completely off before exiting. We’re in contact with local authorities and Fiat Chrysler to understand all of the facts related to this tragic crash, including whether or not this was caused by the current issue under recall.”

Urged by the NHTSA, FCA reluctantly recalled the vehicles in April, 2016, and recently filed a notice with the NHTSA that software updates would become available no later than July/August 2016. According to the NHTSA statement, “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.”

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), a watchdog group founded by safety advocate Ralph Nader, issued a letter to Chrysler calling for action. A big complaint is that automakers are too slow to respond to and repair vehicle defects.

"The Center for Auto Safety calls on Chrysler to:

  • Notify owners not to drive these vehicles until repaired under the safety recall.
  • Provide free loaner or rental cars of comparable value to all owners until the vehicles are repaired under the safety recall.
  • For owners who cannot wait until a recall repair is available, buy the recalled vehicles back at original purchase or lease cost with no deduction for use as is done under state lemon laws where the defect exists on the day the vehicle was bought.
  • Provide a detailed public timeline within 10 days of what is being done to make a recall remedy available, when parts will be available for all vehicles and who is doing the engineering for the recall.
  • Sergio Marchionne should publicly go and apologize to the family of Anton Yelchin."

If you are unsure if your car is under recall, check www.safercar.gov.

Do you have any questions about this post? If so, please email Mr. Zambri: szambri@reganfirm.com.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer of the Year". Super Lawyers recently named him among the "Top Ten" lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys) (2014 and 2015). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best - most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2016 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine - national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

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