Range Rover 'Roll Away' Accident Video Surfaces

By Cee Lippens December 22, 2020
The 2017 Land Range Rover  The 2017 Land Range Rover

A lawsuit continues in California that may change how dial gear shifters are installed in vehicles across the country.

Shadi Farhat, 41, of Los Angeles, Calif., was pulled underneath her 2017 Jaguar Land Rover on Oct. 1st 2018 and killed. The horrific accident, caught on tape, had Mrs. Farhat pinned under her vehicle after she exited, and the Land Rover subsequently rolled over her. She managed to get out and stand before collapsing and dying several days later. Michael Farhat, Shadi’s husband, filed a lawsuit in 2019 against Jaguar and Penske contending a faulty gear shifter caused the accident. The complaint was amended in February 2020 for breach of implied warranty under the Song-Beverly Act. 

The alleged defective dial shifter in the Land Rover

The suit alleges that Mrs. Farhat's Land Rover was defective in the following ways: (1) It contained an electronic gear selector that 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; (2) Drivers can exit the Subject Vehicle, when the engine is running, and the transmission is not in PARK resulting in unintended vehicle rollaway.

As well, the amended lawsuit alleges that Penske "breached the implied warranty of merchantability because at the time Decedent took possession of the subject vehicle, the vehicle and defective gear selector were not of merchantable quality and constituted an extreme danger and hazard to persons using or in the vicinity of the subject vehicle and/or defective gear selector."  

Though the litigation is ongoing, Judge Holly Fujie's court has granted the requests of Penske and Jaguar Land Rover to strike punitive damage allegations from the suit without leave to amend.

CBS News reported 513 roll-away incidents from Jaguar Range Rovers with the dial gear shifter, that the company may have known about, including 28 with the Land Rover model in question. The lawsuit alleges Land Rover failed to make that information public. Company documents have come to light via Farhat's lawsuit, that suggest Jaguar was aware of hundreds of roll-aways potentially tied to defective gear shifters as early as 2017. Repairs may have been suggested internally, but a recall was never issued.

The suit alleges that despite Jaguar’s knowledge of the defective gear shifter they failed adequately to remedy the shifter issue. The suit says that drivers have complained they can’t tell when the car is in park or drive. Jaguar has stated the Land Rover “dings” when a door opens, and the car is not in park.

Shadi Farhat caught under her rollaway Land Rover

For four years, the NHTSA has pursued an investigation into reports of roll-away incidents involving the Land Rover and the dial shifters. NHTSA investigators have found two things: (1) Many drivers seem confused about the dial shifter and how it works; (2) There appear to be no mechanical or electronic issues with the dial shifter that would lead to a recall and repair order. NHTSA closed its investigation in August but has signaled it will continue to monitor the situation. The confusion may be stemming from the rotating gear dial shifter being mounted on the Land Rover with park and reverse next to each other on the dial. 

Readers may recall the 2016 death of “Star Trek” star Anton Yelchin who played “Chekov” in the movie franchise. His death was caused by a roll-away incident involving his Jeep Cherokee. The 2016 Grand Cherokee’s dial shifter was involved in a recall for defects. Yelchin’s highly publicized death led to safety measures being added by many carmakers to new vehicles with dial shifters to prevent roll-away incidents. Jaguar opted to add the measures to its 2018 hybrid model only. This may turn out to be an expensive oversite for Jaguar. 

In court filings, Land Rover denied fault and has blamed operator error.

The NHTSA encourages vehicle owners to report any safety related defects online or through the agency's hotline at 888-327-4236.

 

The Victim's family released the video of Mrs Farhat's death this week to CBS news. Watch the CBS coverage below.

Warning: Graphic Content.  

 

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 30 December 2020 16:35