Jeep Grand Cherokee owner says electronic shifter didn't malfunction, but it's defective.

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Chrysler Monostable Gear Shifter Lawsuit Partly Dismissed
Jeep Grand Cherokee owner says electronic shifter didn't malfunction, but it's defective.

— A Chrysler monostable gear shifter class action lawsuit has been partly dismissed after the plaintiff failed to convince the judge that all claims against the automaker should proceeed.

The Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) class action lawsuit was filed by Florida plaintiff Sarah Lalli, owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Lalli says she hasn't suffered any injuries caused by the monostable shifter, but she sued for "economic loss damages" because the Jeep is equipped with an electronic shifter.

A different Florida plaintiff was also included in the lawsuit, but her claims were dismissed when she "disappeared" from the proceedings.

According to the lawsuit, Chrysler created the vehicles with monostable gear shifters that are too confusing for drivers to operate properly. Multiple class actions were filed over the shifters in Dodge Chargers, Jeep Grand Cherokees and Chrysler 300s alleging the vehicles are too dangerous to own or drive.

The lawsuits followed the much-publicized death of actor Anton Yelchin who was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward and trapped him between a concrete mailbox and the vehicle.

The electronic monostable shifter works by going back to the same central position, as opposed to shifting a lever into different gears. Drivers complain they don't know what gears the transmissions are in unless they look at the indicator lights.

According to the class action, owners have reported more than 300 crashes and dozens of injuries allegedly caused by mistakes made when using the shifters.

Chrysler owners say the dangers are real because the vehicles aren't equipped with safety override systems that automatically put the transmissions in PARK when the driver-side doors are opened and the brake pedals aren't pressed.

According to the plaintiff, Chrysler violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), and violated laws concerning fraudulent concealment, breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment.

In its motion to dismiss, FCA argues the FDUTPA claim is untimely and the fraudulent concealment claim is barred by Florida’s economic loss doctrine.

In addition, the breach of express warranty claim allegedly cannot be maintained because the plaintiff didn't provide Chrysler with pre-suit notice of the warranty claim.

And the automaker says "under Florida law an unjust enrichment claim based on the same factual premises as a breach of contract (warranty) claim must be dismissed as defectively pleaded."

Judge David M. Lawson ruled certain claims can proceed, but important class action claims under the FDUTPA are dismissed, although the plaintiff can move forward with her individual claim under that statute.

The plaintiff had better success with her fraudulent concealment claim when the judge denied Chrysler's motion to dismiss, but the judge went the other way concerning a breach of express warranty claim.

Additionally, the judge dismissed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claim because it is dependent on the express warranty claim.

The Chrysler monostable gear shifter lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan: In Re: FCA US LLC Monostable Electronic Gearshift Litigation.


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