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Judge rules Chrysler/Harman infotainment system hacking lawsuit can proceed in 3 states.

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No Nationwide Class-Action for Chrysler Hacking Lawsuit
Judge rules Chrysler/Harman infotainment system hacking lawsuit can proceed in 3 states.

— Chrysler hacking problems that caused a recall then a lawsuit will be argued in court, although not for customers outside Illinois, Michigan and Missouri.

The Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) Uconnect infotainment hacking lawsuit was filed against Fiat Chrysler and Harman International Industries in 2015 by plaintiffs Brian Flynn, Michael Keith, and George and Kelly Brown.

The plaintiffs claim design defects in the Harman Uconnect 8.4A and Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment systems open the vehicles to hackers who can take control from drivers in these 2013-2015 vehicles.

  • 2013-2015 Dodge Viper
  • 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500
  • 2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee
  • 2014-2015 Dodge Durango
  • 2015 Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300
  • 2015 Dodge Charger
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger

The class-action lawsuit was filed shortly after media reports of hackers who took control of a Jeep Cherokee through the Harman Uconnect infotainment system.

The hackers were friendly security researchers looking for vulnerabilities in the radio and other systems of the Jeep, causing Chrysler to recall about 1.4 million vehicles to update the software. But the plaintiffs claim the systems are designed in ways that made the recall repairs inadequate.

According to the lawsuit, Chrysler concealed defects that make the vehicles unsafe and worth less than they should be.

Harman and FCA argue the vehicles are safe and do not contain defects, and no system has ever been hacked outside of a controlled environment. In addition, repairs made during the 2015 recall leave only a remote risk to support the claims of owners who claim they paid too much for the vehicles that lost value.

Although FCA wanted the entire lawsuit dismissed, the judge said he saw no reason to deny all the claims of the plaintiffs, at least not at this stage of the pleadings.

The hacking lawsuit will continue, but not on the scale sought by attorneys for Chrysler owners. The judge denied to certify the complaint as a nationwide class-action and ruled only certain claims from the states of Illinois, Michigan and Missouri will proceed.

"Plaintiffs provide evidence that the design and installation of the Uconnect devices themselves, rather than the software operating the devices, is defective and that fixing the software may not have fixed the alleged defects." - Judge Michael J. Reagan

Upon this ruling, the judge said he couldn't dismiss all counts against FCA and Harman because there are "genuine disputes of material fact."

Chrysler told the judge the plaintiffs must not have been too concerned with their vehicles being hacked because none of the plaintiffs stopped driving the vehicles, but the judge ruled he couldn't, as a matter of law, find the vehicles were mechantable based on that fact alone.

"Plaintiffs provide evidence of cybersecurity defects sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to merchantability and the presence of defects in the vehicles. Despite Defendants’ characterization that the defect alleged by Plaintiffs requires that they be hacked before bringing suit, Plaintiffs provide evidence that suggests that the Uconnect integration in their vehicles is flawed such that the defect exists regardless of whether they, personally, have had their vehicles hacked." - Judge Reagan

Chrysler previously got certain claims dismissed and this time the automaker succeeded in getting unjust enrichment and fraud claims tossed, but the judge let through certain claims for damages and warranty violations.

The judge ruled the lawsuit includes all consumers who purchased or leased any of the affected vehicles on or before July 5, 2018. In addition, the vehicles must be equipped with Uconnect 8.4A or Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment systems that were subject to the July 2015 recall.

The Chrysler hacking lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois - Flynn, et al. v. FCA US LLC, et al.

The plaintiffs are represented by Armstrong Teasdale LLP, the Law Office of Christopher Cueto and Lloyd M. Cueto, P.C., and the Law Office of Stephen R. Wigginton.

CarComplaints.com has complaints about the affected vehicles:

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