Anton Yelchin’s Death Fuels Class Action Lawsuit
Entertainment| | By Sara Wilkins
The freak car accident that took the life of actor Anton Yelchin has sparked a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer.
The 27-year-old Star Trek star was found by friends pinned in between his Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicle and a brick pillar at the driveway of his home in San Fernando Valley, California on Sunday.
Officials at the Los Angeles coroner’s office confirmed Yelchin’s death was an accident, noting he only suffered for a minute or so before dying from blunt traumatic asphyxia.
Bosses at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the manufacturer of Yelchin’s Jeep, launched an investigation into the incident as the vehicle model was subject to a product recall in April. His Jeep Grand Cherokee was one of 1.1 million Fiat Chrysler cars subject to the recall.
Officials at America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated complaints from drivers stating that the vehicle was at risk of “roll away” crashes due to drivers exiting their cars without knowing they were still in gear.
And on Thursday, lawyers from consumer rights firm Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP on behalf of three plaintiffs – Deryl Wall, Justine Andollo, and Danielle and Joby Hackett – filed a complaint in federal court accusing executives at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of intentionally covering up fatal design flaws and deaths from the defects.
In the legal papers obtained by TheWrap, the complaint reads: “The safety issue is real. Well over 300 accidents have already been reported, causing dozens of serious injuries, and potentially the death of Anton Yelchin, a young Hollywood actor who was crushed to death when his own 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his drive and pinned him against his brick mailbox.”
The firm is also seeking an injunction to halt the manufacturer’s alleged deceptive practices, punitive damages for fraud, “immediate installation of a safety override system or replacement of the defective ZF Shifter,” a temporary replacement car and compensation for any additional costs owners may have incurred.
“FCA’s unreasonable delay in fixing the defect and its warning letter was obviously too little, too late for Mr. Yelchin, and nearly a million Defective Shifter Vehicles remain in unsuspecting owners’ driveways and garages,” the papers read. “As a result of this dangerous defect, the Defective Shifter Vehicles are ‘unsafe in any driveway’ and the value of each Defective Shifter Vehicle has diminished, and it will remain depressed even if an effective fix is eventually applied.”
Plaintiffs estimate damages will be in excess of $5 million for the now-fallen resale value of their vehicles.