Fiat Chrysler Faces More Rollaway Class Actions

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By Martina Barash

Aug. 5 — At least four additional would-be nationwide class actions were filed in July over a nontraditional gearshift in Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles that allegedly leads to rollaway incidents ( Vosburgh v. FCA US LLC, E.D. Mich., No. 2:16-cv-12571, complaint filed 7/8/16 ; Weber v. FCA US LLC, E.D. Mich., No. 2:16-cv-12574, complaint filed 7/8/16 ; Mack v. FCA US LLC, E.D.N.Y., No. 2:16-cv-04133, complaint filed 7/26/16 ; Harbin v. FCA US LLC, M.D. Tenn., No. 2:16-cv-00055, complaint filed 7/29/16 ).

The suits against FCA US LLC, the U.S. unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, follow an initial class action filed June 23 in federal court in California following reports of the death of actor Anton Yelchin (44 PSLR 691, 7/11/16). Yelchin's parents have filed a wrongful-death suit (see related story).

The plaintiffs allege the gear shifters, made by ZF Friedrichshafen AG, don't provide adequate feedback to the driver to indicate the vehicle is in Park. The shifters allegedly allow the driver to exit the vehicle when it is in a forward or reverse gear.

Michael Palese, a spokesman for FCA US, disputed the merits of the suits and said a recall fix has been put into place to resolve the shifting problem. “These lawsuits are moot as FCA US has already implemented the remedy they seek,” Palese said in an Aug. 4 statement sent to Bloomberg BNA.

“Moreover, the vehicles addressed in these actions are among the most valued and sought after vehicles on the road today,” he said. “Allegations that their resale value is somehow diminished by a recall are completely unsubstantiated.”

In addition to asserting claims on behalf of proposed nationwide classes, the suits also propose state subclasses—Pennsylvania in Vosburgh and Weber, New York in Mack, and Tennessee and Georgia in Harbin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina S. Barash in Washington at mbarash@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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