LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The parents of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin, who died when he was pinned by a rollaway Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driveway of his Studio City home, announced the filing of a lawsuit against the automaker, alleging defects in the vehicle led to his death.
Yelchin, 27, was best known for his role as Chekov in the recent series of “Star Trek” films. He died June 19 at his home in the 3800 block of Berry Drive, with investigators saying his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down his steep driveway, crushing him against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence.
Police said Yelchin had gotten out of the car when it rolled away. That model vehicle was under recall over concerns about gear shifters confusing some drivers, causing vehicles to roll away unexpectedly.
“It is wrong, it’s against nature when the parents bury (their) own child,” Yelchin’s father, Victor, said at a news conference with attorney Gary Dordick. “That’s why we hope that this lawsuit will make our family never go through this same hell as we are going right now.”
Fiat Chrysler, which owns Jeep, issued a statement last month saying that the company was investigating the actor’s death and expressing sympathy for Yelchin’s family.
There was no immediate comment from the company on the family’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Yelchin’s Jeep had a defective “gear selector” which has an “unfamiliar movement that is not intuitive and that provides poor tactile and visual feedback to drivers, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection and vehicle rollaway.” It also contends that the vehicle, and others with the same equipment, “failed to include sufficient rollaway prevention features as well as sufficient warning features and/or measures so as to prevent drivers from exiting these vehicles with the engine running and the transmission not in `park’ and/or to avoid vehicle rollaway.”
According to the lawsuit, Yelchin got out of his Jeep and walked to the bottom of his driveway, but the vehicle failed to stay in the `park’ position, causing it to roll down the driveway and strike him.
“Anton Yelchin was crushed and lingered alive for some time, trapped and suffocating until his death,” the suit states.
The actor’s parents last week also filed documents in Los Angeles Superior Court asking to become administrators of Anton Yelchin’s estate. The documents indicated he left a $1.4 million estate but no will.
Days after Yelchin’s death, a group of Jeep Grand Cherokee owners filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler in federal court in Riverside, alleging the automaker concealed and failed to fix a shifter design defect linked to driverless rollaway accidents, such as the one that killed the actor.
That lawsuit alleges the design flaw affects 811,000 vehicles, including 2014-2015 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers. It contends that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV concealed both its shifter design defect and hundreds of related accidents that caused property damage and injuries.
The plaintiffs also allege that the raft of negative publicity’ surrounding the recent disclosure of the problem has greatly diminished the resale value of their vehicles.
According to the complaint, the defect has been responsible for at least 41 injuries, and possibly caused the death of Yelchin. Fiat Chrysler initiated a recall of 1.1 million cars worldwide equipped with the defectively designed shifter but has yet to provide any fix, the lawsuit states.
Yelchin, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, also appeared in such films as “Alpha Dog,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Charlie Bartlett.”
He was supposed to meet up with friends for rehearsal the day of his death, police said. When he did not show up, his friends went to his home and found him dead by his vehicle
An only child, Yelchin was 6 months old when he moved with his family to the United States in September 1989. His mother worked as a figure skating choreographer and his father as a figure skating coach.