LOS ANGELES, CA (CBS SF/AP) – The parents of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin on Tuesday sued the makers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, an SUV that was under recall when it crushed and killed the 27-year-old.
Victor and Irina Yelchin filed the wrongful-death and product-liability lawsuit against automaker Fiat Chrysler in Los Angeles Superior Court roughly six weeks after their son was killed. The suit contends that the gear selector in the actor’s Jeep was defective and poorly designed and manufactured.
“Anton Yelchin was crushed and lingered alive for some time, trapped and suffocating until his death,” the lawsuit says.
It does not say how much Yelchin’s parents are seeking in damages.
The actor’s Jeep rolled backward down the driveway of his Los Angeles home June 19, pinning him between a mailbox and a security fence. The SUV was among 1.1 million vehicles recalled in April because its gear shifters have confused drivers, causing the vehicles to roll away unexpectedly and leading to dozens of injuries.
The lawsuit says Yelchin’s SUV did not engage or maintain its “park” gear and that led to the vehicle crushing the actor.
Yelchin is perhaps best known for his role as Pavel Chekov in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise. The third film in the series, “Star Trek Beyond,” has grossed more than $106 million in the U.S. in its first two weekends.
The actor was the Yelchins’ only son, and they filed Friday to oversee his estate, which is valued at nearly $1.4 million. Anton Yelchin left behind several unreleased projects, including the Netflix animated series “Trollhunters” and four films.
Fiat Chrysler extended its sympathies to Yelchin’s parents in a statement released before the suit was filed but added that the company had not been served with the case and could not comment on it.
Drivers of the Jeep under recall have complained that they had trouble telling if they put the transmission in “park” after stopping. Many reported the vehicles rolled off after the driver exited.
A government investigation into the gear shifters found 266 crashes that had injured 68 people as of late June.
Fiat Chrysler has said it is speeding up its recall of the vehicle. Both the company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have urged drivers of vehicles subject to the gear shift recall to set their parking brakes before getting out of their vehicles.
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