PASADENA, Calif., June 24 (UPI) -- A class action lawsuit has been filed against Jeep Grand Cherokee manufacturer Fiat Chrysler following the death of Star Trek star Anton Yelchin in a freak accident.
The suit accuses the company of an "unreasonable delay" in fixing a defect in 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees that was known to create a "rollaway" risk.
The suit was filed Thursday by the law firm Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP on behalf of Deryl Wall, Justine Andollo, Danielle and Joby Hackett.
The plaintiffs allege that the vehicle's gear shifter is "dangerously defective because there is no tactile or position feedback to the operator as to whether the car has actually been placed into the safe-to-exit 'park' gear."
Yelchin, 27, was found dead at his San Fernando Valley, California home, Sunday, stuck between his Jeep Grand Cherokee and a brick mailbox.
His death may have been related to the "rollaway" risk that caused the manufacturer to issue a recall in April, suggests the lawsuit. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles insisted in a statement issued Monday that it was "premature" to make this connection.
The complaint accuses the automobile manufacturer of being slow responding to safety concerns, only issuing a recall of some 811,000 vehicles in the United States in April, despite the fact that reported incidents dated back to early 2015.
"FCA's unreasonable delay in fixing the defect and its warning letter was obviously too little, too late for Mr. Yelchin," the complaint says.
More than 100 crashes have been reported due to a gear selector problem that caused driver confusion about whether the car was in park. More than two dozen injuries have been caused by these rollaways, according to federal reports.
The plaintiffs call for punitive damages for fraud, the immediate replacement of the defective gear shifter, a temporary replacement car and compensation for any additional costs owners may have incurred.
Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro, also urged Maserati owners included in a recent recall to join the suit.
Maserati, which is owned by FCA, is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin.
"In making these vehicles, Fiat Chrysler failed at adequately and responsibly designing one of the most basic safety features -- the gear shifter," Berman said.