Jaguar Land Rover is being sued over a ‘defective’ Range Rover gear selector that one man claims caused the death of his wife and is at the center of hundreds of other claims that cars rolled away while parked.
Michael Farhat is suing the company over the death of his fashion designer wife Shadi after she was run over and killed by her luxury SUV that she believed she had parked.
His lawsuit includes video of the accident that he claims was caused by the revolving dial gear selector fitted to the Range Rover and many other Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
Mrs Farhat repeatedly complained that she could not tell when the vehicle was in park, struggling to operate the gear selector that is a dial that ‘pops out’ of the dashboard console and rotates to select gears.
He alleges the company has received hundreds of similar complaints, including 28 about Range Rovers, and US federal regulators spent four years investigating reports of unintended rollaways but closed its investigation this year.
The Range Rover had been stopped in a Los Angeles parking lot when Shadi stepped out, thinking she had put the gear into park
Footage shows the car rolling back after Mrs Farhat had stepped out, trapping her feet under the door
Mrs Farhat repeatedly complained that she could not tell when the vehicle was in park, struggling to operate the gear selector that is a dial
Michael (top, pictured with his two daughters and wife, bottom) cited company documents from 2017 in his lawsuit which purport to show the company was aware of hundreds of potential rollaway complaints
Mrs Farhat stepped out of her 2017 Range Rover SUV in Los Angeles in 2018 when it started rolling back, trapping her underneath the wheel in the horrific footage shared by the family with CBS as part of the lawsuit.
The mother-of-two from Los Angeles made it to her feet before collapsing and she died days later.
Mr Farhat, who is now raising their two daughters alone, blames the ‘defective gear selector’ which he claims can cause confusion for drivers.
He told CBS News: ‘She complained about it a lot, ‘I can’t tell when it’s in park, I can’t tell if it’s in reverse, I can’t tell if it’s in drive’.’
Michael cited company documents from 2017 in his lawsuit which purport to show the company was aware of hundreds of potential rollaway complaints in cars with a dial shifter.
He claims 28 complaints alone occurred in the Range Rover model.
Gina Warsavsky (pictured) says she suffered a similar accident last month when her SUV knocked her over and ran over her right hand
The revolving gear selector is fitted to the Range Rover and many other Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, with park and reverse next to each other on the dial (file image)
When the engine is turned off in different Jaguar Land Rover models, the gear selector is stored in a lower position
When the engine is turned on, the dial rises, allowing the driver to rotate it from the parked setting
In the Jaguar Land Rover vehicle documents, it states: ‘Before exiting the vehicle, make sure that the vehicle is stationary. Select Park. Apply the Electric Parking Brake (EPB). Switch the engine off.
‘The vehicle can move unexpectedly with any other gear position selected, which may result in death or serious injury.’
Gina Warsavsky says she suffered a similar accident last month when her SUV knocked her over and ran over her right hand, which left her needing reconstructive surgery.
She said she thought she had left the car in park when she got out and it started reversing towards her.
Michael (top left) has taken legal action against Jaguar Land Rover over the ‘defective gear selector’ which he claims can cause confusion for drivers such as his wife (top right, pictured with their two daughters)
Shadi worked as a fashion designer in Los Angeles and owned the luxury clothing company MISA before her untimely death in 2018
Toyota’s billion-dollar settlement over ‘unintended acceleration’
Car manufacturers have rarely had to pay out for defects in recent years, but in 2014, Toyota agreed to a $1.2billion sum to avoid prosecution for covering up severe safety problems.
For years, Toyota responded to complaints about acceleration issues in some of its most popular models by doing little more than changing floor mats.
In 2009-10, the car company was forced to recall millions of vehicles after it became clear that floor mats were not the main cause of the many cases of unintended acceleration problems.
Following the recall, Toyota executives were forced to appear in two Congressional hearings, at which lawmakers criticized their response to complaints.
The company later agreed to avoid any potential criminal charges that could be brought against employees in the future by shelling out on a huge fine.
Toyota agreed that it ‘misled’ customers after they continued to make cars which the FBI said the company ‘knew were deadly.’
Gina, who is also suing Jaguar Land Rover, said: ‘It was horrific. It was a nightmare that is forever haunting me.’
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has spent nearly four years investigating unintended rollaways involving a dial shifter in Jaguar Land Rover cars.
They ended their investigation in August after failing to identify any mechanical or electronic faults, instead blaming ‘operator error’.
In court filings, Land Rover has also denied fault and said the accidents were the fault of the drivers.
The NHTSA said it is still monitoring the issue and they will take further action if new information surfaces.
Attorney Dylan Ruga, who is representing both Farhat and Warsavsky, said: ‘Drivers are confused and Land Rover knows that drivers are confused. And this unfortunately is the inevitable result of what happens when people think the car is in park and it is not.’
Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin died in a suspected rollaway accident in 2016 when his Jeep Grand Cherokee trapped him against a brick pillar.
After the incident, many carmakers added new safety features to prevent similar accidents, but Land Rover only added the feature in 2018 to hybrid Range Rovers.
Fiat Chrysler has also been investigated by the NHTSA after they received reports of 25 crashes and nine injuries with its Dodge and Ram models.
The cars involved had a rotary shift knob. The company recalled more than a million cars before the investigation was launched.
Fiat Chrysler changed the design of the shifter to make it similar to a standard mechanical shifter.
In 2012, Honda recalled 871,000 vehicles that could roll away after the ignition key had been removed.
The Japanese automaker said a part in the ignition interlock could become damaged or worn, enabling the key to be removed even if the vehicle’s transmission lever has not been shifted into park.
Jaguar Land Rover declined to comment on the specific incidents due to ongoing legal action.
But a spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Jaguar Land Rover is committed to the safety of our customers and is saddened to hear of these incidents. As this matter is now related to pending litigation, we are unable to comment further.’
The NHTSA encourages vehicle owners to report and safety related defects online or through the agency’s hotline at 888-327-4236.