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Owners say Chrysler gear shifts are confusing and cause vehicles to roll away.

Posted in News

Lawsuit: Chrysler Gear Shift Confusing and Dangerous
Owners say Chrysler gear shifts are confusing and cause vehicles to roll away.

— Allegedly confusing Chrysler gear shifts have caused another lawsuit that alleges Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles are at risk of rolling away and doing damage to people and property.

The Texas plaintiff, Sonya Dawson, says her 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee tried to kill her when she allegedly shifted the transmission into PARK and exited the SUV with the engine running.

Dawson says with the driver's side door closed and the Jeep rolling backward, she tried to jump back into the Grand Cherokee and hit the brakes. The plaintiff alleges she was thrown out of the SUV and knocked to the ground as the Grand Cherokee rolled over her right foot.

According to the plaintiff, she was provided a walking boot by a doctor, but tests performed the day after the incident didn't find any broken bones. However, Dawson said she suffered from pain for months until an orthopedic surgeon told her she had a torn ligament.

Dawson says the entire ordeal could have been avoided if the automaker would have equipped the SUVs with shifting systems with safety overrides that prevent rollaway incidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the electronic shifters confuse people who have spent years driving automatic vehicles with typical shifters, but Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) says the shifters work exactly as designed.

According to the automaker, it's drivers who don't put the transmissions into PARK, a problem that has caused at least 700 complaints, 308 claims of property damage, 212 crashes, 41 injuries and one death possibly related to the electronic shifters.

The known fatality is Anton Yelchin, a 27-year-old actor who was killed in 2016 when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled away and trapped him between the SUV and the concrete base of a mailbox.

The Chrysler gear shift lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court of Texas, San Antonio.

Chrysler Gear Shift Multidistrict Litigation

Other Chrysler gear shifter lawsuits are already in a Michigan court and consolidated into multidistrict litigation that alleges the shifters in affected vehicles lack safety overrides that would prevent owners from making mistakes when using the shifters. The plaintiffs say their vehicles are worth less because the electronic gear shifters make the vehicles dangerous to drive.

FCA filed a motion to dismiss the multidistrict litigation by telling the judge the plaintiffs want an auto-park system that was never originally included or marketed with the shifters. The automaker says claims of fraud should be dropped because an auto-park feature wasn't promised to consumers.

In addition, Chrysler says an auto-park feature is now available after the automaker ordered the vehicles recalled, a recall allegedly announced before the plaintiffs filed suit.

FCA also says the claims alleged by the plaintiffs should be dismissed because those people cannot show they were injured by defects in the gear shifters. Chrysler also told the court the plaintiffs originally filed lawsuits in California, but the California court doesn't have jurisdiction, so the lawsuits should be dismissed.

According to court documents, attorneys for Chrysler say there are 20 named plaintiffs that don't live in California, so the plaintiffs and California aren't connected.

The plaintiffs in the Chrysler gear shifter multidistrict litigation are represented by the Miller Law Firm P.C., Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Gustafson Gluek PLLC, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, Greg Coleman Law PC, and Mantese Honigman PC.


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