Former Massachusetts State Trooper John J. Malone is suing Fiat Chrysler after being pinned against a hard wall by his Jeep Grand Cherokee. This federal lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleges that Fiat Chrysler fraudulently concealed and failed to fix a gear shifter design defect that resulted in Malone’s serious injury.
Malone tore his ACL, fractured both knees, and suffered severe bruising. He was hospitalized and thereafter required periodic draining from his knee. He will eventually need a complete knee replacement. Malone is 69 years old.
The suit alleges that the defect has caused approximately 41 injuries. The most publicized case of the defective shifter followed the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who appears in “Star Trek Beyond.” Yelchin’s car, which was allegedly equipped with the same defective electronic transmission shift, rolled out from the driveway of his home and pinned him between a brick pillar and a security fence. He was later found dead.
Yelchin’s parents filed a lawsuit in L.A. against Fiat Chrysler, alleging wrongful death. At a press conference, Yelchin’s attorney indicated that the lawsuit was filed to punish the car company for prioritizing profits over product safety.
Anyone injured by a 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Chrysler 300, or a 2012-2014 Dodge Charger due to the the car’s continued movement despite being placed in park may have a cause of action. In these models, Fiat Chrysler installed gear shifters by a different designer and manufacturer than they had previously used, departing from the long-used PRND gear selector and switching to a problematic electronic mechanism. The ZF Friedrichshafen AG never actually shifts into gear but instead moves to the center after being activated.
Malone’s lawsuit alleges that the ZF Shifter is defective and dangerous because it lacks an adequate feedback mechanism to signal whether the car has actually been put in park. What’s more, there is no safety mechanism to place the car in park if the driver’s door is open, and pressure is released from the foot brake.
According to Malone’s lawyer, Fiat Chrysler has been receiving accident reports and complaints since the beginning of 2015–maybe earlier. Malone alleges that Jeep was aware that the ZF Shifter was designed defectively and is dangerous to the public. Fiat Chrysler could have potentially avoided hundreds of collisions and at least one fatal accident by installing a safety, but they chose against it.
Malone’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was allegedly one of over one million cars that were recalled worldwide by Fiat Chrysler because the gear shift did not properly reveal whether the parking brake was engaged. One report suggested that as of this summer, the gear shift defect has resulted in 68 injuries, 700 complaints, and 266 accidents.
Despite these alarming statistics, Fiat Chrysler only recently began its recall of the nearly 900,000 defective models in the United States. Concerned owners of the affected models should contact an attorney as soon as practicable, particularly if they have been injured by the car’s movement despite being in placed in park.
If you have been harmed by a faulty auto part, you may need the assistance of a product liability lawyer to seek compensation. At the Neumann Law Group, our Massachusetts auto defect attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to accident victims all over the state. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
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