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Parents of 'Star Trek' actor file product liability suit

Illinois residents may have heard of the tragic and untimely death in June of actor Anton Yelchin, known for his role in "Star Trek." Yelchin, age 27, was in the driveway of his home when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, facing frontwards on the driveway, began rolling backwards. The vehicle crushed Yelchin between a security fence and his mailbox. Trapped, Yelchin unfortunately languished alive for a while, before he ultimately suffocated and passed away.

Now, Yelchin's parents are pursuing a legal claim for both wrongful death and product liability against the manufacturer of the vehicle, claiming that there were defects in the vehicle's gear selectors, which led to their son's tragic death. The lawsuit also claims the gear selectors were also inadequately designed and manufactured.

Per the lawsuit, the Jeep did not stay in "park" when it was supposed to, which presumably caused Yelchin's death. While the amount of damages being sought has not been reported, the attorney for Yelchin's parents has stated that they want to see Fiat Chrysler punished and that they want the lawsuit to prompt the company to alter its business practices.

Over one million of these Jeeps were recalled last spring after it was found that the vehicles would roll away without warning. Dozens of individuals were reportedly injured in such incidents. An investigation performed by the U.S. government found that, as of the end of June, almost 70 individuals were involved in over 265 crashes involving these gear shifters. Yelchin reportedly received a safety notice earlier this spring. However, the recall notice with information about the fix did not reach him until seven days after his death.

As this tragedy shows, even if vehicle recalls are announced, they may not put a consumer on notice in time to prevent injuries and even fatalities. Product liability claims may not bring a loved one back, but they can at least be a way to hold negligent manufacturers accountable for their defective products so that further injuries and deaths can hopefully be avoided.

Source: newson6.com, "Parents sue over crash that killed 'Star Trek' actor Yelchin," Aug. 2, 2016

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