Thousands of you have reached out to us for more information about the lawsuit, about the ZF Shifter defect and about what compensation you can expect. The answers below are questions we've received from owners of cars with the defective ZF shifters and have been answered by the Hagens Berman legal team.
Do you have a question you think other owners have too? Post it on Twitter with #AskBerman in the tweet. Using the hashtag will allow you to share your story and talk with other owners of cars with the defective ZF shifters. Hagens Berman's PR team will follow the hashtags, post answers to your questions from the legal team, and may add your question to our Questions from Owners page.
Read what Fiat Chrysler owners are asking:
Did you receive my information?
Am I represented by Hagens Berman?
Providing your information through the online form does not create a representation agreement. If you have agreed to serve as a class representative plaintiff and have returned an signed Rights and Responsibilities letter (“R&R”), then you are represented by Hagens Berman for this litigation.
Do I have to be named in a lawsuit or sign up with a law firm to be a part of the case?
No. The individuals named in a complaint are class representatives. Each class representative serves as a proxy for all other owners of cars that have the defective ZF shifter who are similarly affected and situated. We select owners to serve as class representatives based on several factors, including the need for owners with particular vehicles who live in particular states. Other criteria included whether owners appear to be typical of many others, whether there are financial complications and what factors were important to the owner when they purchased their car.
Everyone who owns a 2012-14 Dodge Charger, 2012-14 Chrysler 300, or 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee will automatically be a class member if the case is certified as a class action by the judge, and that owner does not affirmatively “opt-out” of the class case.
Should I sign up with you? If so, how do I do so?
You can sign up to receive information from us, and if you do so, we will be in touch with you about serving as a class representative plaintiff. Since we expect to be in a leadership role for the entire case, our litigation strengths and contribution to the end result will benefit all class members. By signing up with us, you can participate in our owner damages survey, and your insight will then contribute in some degree to what we understand owners want and expect from this case.
What will I get out of this case?
It is too early to know what the end result will be. We are going to fight for the best possible outcome for owners, which will include making the cars safe to operate (and park), and providing owners compensation for the reduction in the value of their cars. If Fiat Chrysler is not willing to provide a fair settlement, then the case will proceed in litigation.
What is the case about?
This case is brought on behalf of persons who purchased or leased a 2012-14 Dodge Charger or Chrysler 300, or a 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee (“Affected Vehicles”). These cars were sold with an 8-speed monostable ZF shifter that is defectively designed. The defect is that the shifter does not provide adequate user feedback as to whether the driver has placed the car in ‘park’, and does not have a safety override mechanism to prevent the driver from exiting a car is not in ‘park.’ As a result of this defect, there have been hundreds of roll-away accidents involving the Affected Vehicles. The defect has caused damage to car owners, including causing loss of usability and a diminution in value in Affected Vehicles.
Which vehicles are affected? Is mine on the list?
Affected Vehicles include: 2012-2014 Dodge Charger, 2012-14 Chrysler 300 and 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee. There are approximately 811,000 Affected Vehicles on US roadways.
What is the intended outcome?
Hagens Berman will seek to hold Fiat Chrysler accountable for putting profits ahead of safety and selling Affected Vehicles with such a dangerous defect. We will fight tirelessly for recovery of the losses owners suffered.
What types of damages are you seeking in the class action?
In our class actions, we seek for each class member the damages they incurred as a result of the defective ZF shifter. Such damages may include:
How long will it take to resolve this?
Cases of this nature usually take between one and four years to resolve. However, in this case there are indications that Fiat Chrysler will seek an early resolution.
How much money can I expect?
At this early stage of the litigation it is difficult to predict what compensation each class member will ultimately receive. If a settlement is reached that the court rules is fair, reasonable and adequate, then the money obtained from that settlement must be distributed to class members in a manner that the court determines to be fair and equitable. Strictly for purposes of example, in the Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration case, which Hagens Berman led, the case settled for $1.6 billion, and qualifying class members received a check between $125 and $6,000, depending upon the characteristics of the vehicle owned. This case could be larger or smaller than the Toyota case, but Hagens Berman will fight for the largest possible recovery for class members.
How many other firms will be filing suit?
There will likely be dozens of law firms filing suits throughout the country. These suits will all be consolidated for pre-trial purposes with a single court and that court will select a small group of lawyers and firms to organize and manage the litigation as lead counsel. Hagens Berman was chosen as lead counsel in the Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration case ($1.6 billion settlement) and the Hyundai/Kia MPG case ($380 million settlement), and Steve Berman is currently serving as lead counsel in the massive GM Ignition Switch Defect litigation and is on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Volkswagen Dieselgate litigation. No other firm has Hagens Berman’s proven track record in massive nationwide auto defect cases.
What is the statute of limitations on a case like this?
The statute of limitations can vary depending upon the state law applicable and the causes of action asserted. However, in this case, because Fiat Chrysler unreasonably delayed issuing a recall and concealed the defect and its fraudulent behavior, any applicable statutes of limitations may be tolled, meaning that they did not start until the fraud was discovered.
I signed a document saying that I wouldn’t talk about the maintenance issues I’ve had and they gave me $1k. Can I still join the class action?
Our view is that to the extent this “agreement” was used by Fiat Chrysler to keep a safety defect secret, it is against public policy and unenforceable. Please send us the document that you signed and we will review it and advise you of your options.
If I sign up with Hagens Berman as a class member, or become a class representative plaintiff, can I still respond if Fiat Chrysler calls me to discuss a remedy?
By signing up with Hagens Berman, you do not lose or waive your ability to respond to any communication or offer from Fiat Chrysler.
Be careful in accepting any offer that you do not waive your rights to proceed as a class member in this litigation, unless that is your intent. IF you are a class representative plaintiff, then Fiat Chrysler is not permitted to contact you directly about this litigation, and any such contact should be referred to your attorneys at Hagens Berman. Whether you choose to accept an offer from Fiat Chrysler to resolve your case is entirely your choice and you may elect to do so at any time.
Please pay careful attention to any documents you are asked to sign in connection with any offer from Fiat Chrysler and let us know of any difficulties you encounter. If for any reason it appears to you that Fiat Chrysler or your dealer are trying to get you to release your claims in any way, or are making you agree to arbitration or to waive your right to participate in a class action, contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options with you.
If I have provided my information to Hagens Berman, can I still respond if Fiat Chrysler calls me to discuss a remedy for my Affected Vehicle?
As a class member, you are not foreclosed from negotiating your own solution with Fiat Chrysler. Such a solution may, or may not mean you can also participate in the class action. If you have engaged Hagens Berman and Fiat Chrysler does offer you a remedy, our legal team would be happy to discuss your choices with you, but as the client, the choice to accept any offer Fiat Chrysler makes to you is entirely yours.
If I respond to an email or call Fiat Chrysler, will it harm the class action case?
Corresponding with Fiat Chrysler will not have an adverse effect on our lawsuit.
I received a letter from Fiat Chrysler. What should I do?
Owners of vehicles with defective ZF shifters have been receiving form letters from Fiat Chrysler, in which it still does not offer you any solution, but will do so soon. While Fiat Chrysler states that there is nothing for owners to do at this stage, there is much you can do to make sure your interests are protected, and you should not sit idly by for months on end. Fiat Chrysler would like nothing more than to be able to discount the concerns of customers, government agencies and regulators by claiming that most owners have not joined class actions or otherwise complained of the ZF shifter defect. Do not let your concerns go uncounted.
If you have not already signed up with Hagens Berman, we urge you to do so. Providing us your information will not preclude you from obtaining any recovery or benefit Fiat Chrysler may offer outside of the class actions, and it will give you a voice now to tell Fiat Chrysler that you care.
If I submitted my information to you on your website or by email, do you represent me in this lawsuit?
In a class-action lawsuit, when the case is first filed, the lawyers who file it have a formal attorney-client relationship only with the class representative plaintiffs who are named in the complaint that is filed.
If you are asked to be a class representative plaintiff, and agree to do so, then you will have a formal representation agreement with Hagens Berman.
If you do not wish to engage the firm for representation, all of the other persons in the class (owners of affected vehicles) who have provided us information will be represented by us when the judge certifies the case as a class action, either through settlement or prior to trial. Until then, we will not have a formal attorney client relationship with you, but we will keep you posted about any material events in the lawsuit, and you may contact us to answer any questions you may have about the case.
How much does it cost?
There is no cost or fee whatsoever involved in joining the lawsuit. In the event Hagens Berman or any other firm obtains a settlement or judgment that provides benefits to class members, the court will decide a reasonable fee to be awarded to the lawyers for class members. Any such fee may be paid separately from damages by Fiat Chrysler, or it may be deducted from the class-wide settlement before funds are distributed to individual class members. In no case, however, will any class member ever be asked to pay any out-of-pocket sum to the class lawyers.
How is a settlement for a case like this going to be disbursed?
If a settlement is reached, the settling parties will propose a distribution plan to the court. The court will evaluate the plan and approve it if it is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. The formula here will likely take into account the selling price for each model of car, the age of the car, and the expected drop in value of the car.
Can I be a part of the lawsuit if I leased my car?
Can I be a part of the lawsuit if I sold my car?
I live outside of the US. Can I still be a part of the lawsuit?
Hagens Berman’s present lawsuits are on behalf of persons who purchased their cars in the United States. If you bought your car in the United States and still own it, it does not matter where you live, you can still be part of the lawsuits. However, if you did not purchase your car in the United States, you may not be a part of the lawsuits.
I am in the military working overseas and have my car with me. Can I be a part of the lawsuit?
Yes, if you bought it in the United States.
I have a residence in the states, but I work overseas. Can I be a part of the lawsuit?
Yes, if you bought your car in the United States.
My local attorney recommended that I sue Fiat Chrysler on my own. What are the benefits of being part of a class-action lawsuit?
There are many benefits to participating in the class action:
• you do not have to pay any advance or hourly fees to your attorneys, and your attorneys will be among the finest and most respected plaintiffs’ lawyers in the country;
• your attorneys will pay all fees and costs associated with prosecuting the lawsuit and will not be paid at all if they do not obtain a settlement or judgment that the court determines is fair, reasonable and adequate;
• you will not have to provide discovery, be deposed, appear in court or otherwise participate in the lawsuit unless you ask to be a class representative and are chosen for that role;
• your attorneys will have the collective bargaining power of hundreds of thousands of class members;
• depending upon where you live, you may not have the right to sue your local dealer or Fiat Chrysler because of an arbitration clause in your purchase or lease agreement;
• If a settlement is obtained, you will have the right to review the proposed settlement and then decide whether or not to be included in it. If you decide not to participate, you will retain the right to sue (or continue to sue) on your own. For many claims, the statute of limitations will begin to run only after you exclude yourself from the settlement; the law in some states may differ
I experienced a roll-away accident that caused injury to me or someone with me at the time. Will this be a part of the lawsuit?
Injuries are matters individual to each person and therefore cannot be included in a class action. If you believe you have been injured as a result of the ZF shifter defect, you should talk to the lawyers at Hagens Berman about filing your own lawsuit.
If I am involved in the class action, can I still sue Fiat Chrysler on my own?
If a class action is certified, and you do not opt out of the class or a proposed class settlement, then you will not be able to sue Fit Chrysler for the same claims that were resolved in the class action. However, if you choose not to accept a proposed settlement, or choose to opt-out of the class, then you will retain whatever rights to sue you had prior to the class action.
Can I be a part of the lawsuit if I don't live in the US?
At present, our lawsuits are only on behalf of owners in the United States, and only US residents and citizens can be a part of our proposed classes. However, the cases are still in the earliest stages, and they may expand through various other courts and mechanisms. If you send us your contact information, we will happily keep you up to date on all happenings and will reach out to you if the cases swell to include your country.
My dealer just sent me a letter offering a credit if I trade in my car for a new one. Can I take it?
There is no reason why you cannot talk to your dealer and Fiat Chrysler and take advantage of any special offers they may make. If you do accept such an offer, please document carefully the transaction, including any discounts from your full purchase price and exactly what value they are giving your trade. Make sure the credit is separately accounted for in your transaction documents. Any reduction in trade-in or discount off your original purchase price may be recoverable through the lawsuits.
I don’t feel safe driving with my family in my car. What should I do?
You should voice your concerns directly with Fiat Chrysler and ask them to provide you with a replacement vehicle until they have fixed the safety defect in your car. And talk to us and let us know what they say. Through our lawsuit, we are seeking replacement vehicles for all owners.
Is it safe to engage the emergency brake to make sure car doesn’t roll?
If you take the time to ensure the parking brake is on, at that time, you should also double check the gear selector to make sure it is in park.
Should I continue making payments on my vehicle?
Yes. The fact of the filing of the lawsuits does not terminate your separate financing agreements with your bank or Fiat Chrysler’s affiliated credit provider. If you stop making your payments you may suffer adverse credit consequences and may lose your car.
I fear a significant loss in resale value. What can I expect?
It is highly likely that the Affected Vehicles will suffer a significant loss in resale value. If you chose to sell your car, please keep detailed records of the transaction as your loss in resale value may be recoverable in the class action.
I want to return my car. What do I do?
There is no reason why you cannot talk to your dealer and Fiat Chrysler and try to obtain a return or buyback of your car. If you do accept such an offer, please document carefully the transaction, including any discounts from your full purchase price. Any losses may be recoverable through the lawsuits.
Isn’t Fiat Chrysler going to fix the defective ZF Shifter?
While The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation last fall, only in April did Fiat Chrysler agree to perform a recall. To date the recall consists only of a letter that Fiat Chrysler sent to owners describing the defectively designed ZF Shifter and recommending drivers take care in selecting ‘park’ before exiting the vehicle. Fiat Chrysler has this week announced that it will be rolling out a software change for the shifter that will add a safety override system, but to our knowledge, this has yet to take place and there is no fixed timetable for this recall to be completed.
There are multiple cases filed against Fiat Chrysler. Why?
Anyone can file a lawsuit. There are many owners who want to sue Fiat Chrysler, and many lawyers who want to be part of the lawsuits. All of the cases, however, will be consolidated to a single court for pretrial purposes, and that court will chose a select few firms to manage the litigation.
Do all of the cases get merged together?
Yes. See above.
Since I signed up on the form, am I assured to be a part of the lawsuit?
If you owned one of the affected vehicles, and a class of such owners is certified by the court than you will be part of the lawsuit unless you choose to opt-out of the case or any proposed settlement. We will keep all class members who register with us up to speed on all significant events in the case.
Why is getting lead counsel a benefit to the plaintiff?
If you are a class representative plaintiff and your counsel is selected to be lead counsel, you will participate directly in the lawsuit, and you will be consulted on major events in the litigation. If you are a class member and have provided your information to us, then we will provide you with updates on the case and keep you apprised of all relevant information that becomes available from the case, from regulators and from Fiat Chrysler.
How does a class action work?
In a class action, the plaintiffs ask the judge to certify a class which allows a decision on the merits of the case to be decided after presenting the facts related to a representative plaintiff’s experience. This way, the rights of hundreds, or in this case about 811,000 people can be efficiently decided without each person having to present their individual case to the court. If liability is found or if the case is settled, a judgment or settlement amount is obtained to pay for everyone’s damages. That settlement or judgment fund is then distributed to all class members based on a formula determined by the court to be fair and reasonable.
I've already joined a class action. Is it OK to join more than one suit?
“Joining” a class action is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, everyone who owns an Affected Vehicle will automatically be a class member if any case, or a consolidated case, is certified as a class action by the judge, and that owner does not affirmatively “opt-out” of the class case. Because a decision on whether to certify a class in this case will not occur for many months, as it stands, all owners of Affected Vehicles are potential class members, and you can provide your information to any of the law firms that have filed cases against Fiat Chrysler.
The exception is if you have been named as a class representative plaintiff in a Fiat Chrysler lawsuit—that is, your name is on the lawsuit as a plaintiff—then you would not be able to be a named class representative in another lawsuit alleging the same bad acts by Fiat Chrysler. If you are not the named class representative plaintiff in a lawsuit, you are not yet a part of that lawsuit, and your options are not at all limited.
Why should I sign up with Hagens Berman?
Hagens Berman has the most experience and the most successful track record in the country bringing big settlements for consumers against major automakers – bar none. Hagens Berman secured the largest settlement ever against an automaker at that time – $1.6 billion for vehicle owners against Toyota. We have achieved a $255 million settlement against Hyundai/Kia for overstated MPG in its vehicles. Currently we serve as lead counsel in litigation against GM for the ignition switch defect and are on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the massive Volkswagen Dieselgate litigation. This is our firm’s specialty, and we do it better than any other firm in the nation.
If I sign up with Hagens Berman what can I expect?
You can expect that our firm will fight vigorously for your rights as a consumer, and right the wrong that Fiat Chrysler has committed. Our firm has secured major victories for consumers in numerous cases and will hold Fiat Chrysler responsible for this serious safety defect and tremendous loss to vehicle owners.
How do I ask questions about the case?
Use the hashtag #askberman on Twitter, and please be patient, as our legal team has received thousands of responses. If you feel there is something very important, you may email our legal team directly using [email protected].
What’s the quickest way to get a response from the legal team?
You can use the hashtag #askberman on Twitter, and please be patient, as our legal team has received thousands of responses. If you feel there is something very important you may email our legal team directly using [email protected].
What are next steps?
There will be briefs filed to determine where the cases will be consolidated and what judge will preside over the litigation. Within 3-6 months, the assigned judge will decide which firms will be in charge of the litigation. Soon after that a consolidated complaint will be filed and the litigation will begin with motions practice and discovery. There will likely be no major developments from the class member perspective for at least 4 to 6 months.
What else can I do?
As long as you have provided us your information, we will let you know if anything else needs to be done. If you decide to service, recall, repair, sell or trade your car, please keep accurate records of any such transactions.
Should I contact my local government?
You may choose to do so. Please let us know if you are able to obtain important information or a resolution of your concerns from such contact.