— Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) has been sued for $100 million by the family of a 73-year-old man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving his 2016 Dodge Journey running in the garage.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the wife and son of Lee Trinkle Lawson, of Roanoke, Virginia, who died July 17, 2017.
The lawsuit alleges Mr. Lawson drove home and parked the 2016 Dodge Journey in the enclosed garage. His wife found him unresponsive in the bedroom the next morning and called fire rescue personnel who took her outside to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure, but Mr. Lawson was pronounced dead at the scene.
The lawsuit alleges Mr. Lawson was "the victim of acute carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the defective and unreasonably dangerous design and lack of adequate warning of the 2016 Dodge Journey’s keyless ignition system."
According to the plaintiffs, the Dodge Journey keyless ignition uses a computerized keyless fob that allows a driver to unlock and lock the doors or start and stop the engine without using a traditional key.
Instead of a traditional key inserted into an ignition switch, the engine is stopped or started by pushing a button on the SUV. If an operator does not push the button to stop the engine, the engine will remain running even if the key fob is removed from the vehicle.
According to the plaintiffs, the vehicle was defective because it didn't include an automatic shutoff to prevent an operator from inadvertently exiting the SUV with the engine running.
Although the lawsuit alleges there was a "lack of adequate warning of the 2016 Dodge Journey’s keyless ignition system," the warning section of the 2016 Dodge Journey owner's manual says an operator should make sure the keyless ignition is OFF before exiting the SUV.
"Before exiting a vehicle, always apply the parking brake, shift the automatic transmission into PARK or the manual transmission into REVERSE. Always make sure the keyless ignition node is in the “OFF” mode, remove the Key Fob from the vehicle and lock the vehicle." - 2016 Dodge Journey owner's manual
The Dodge Journey keyless ignition lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia - Paulette Lawson and Lee Trinkle Lawsuit, Jr., vs. FCA US, LLC.