The parents of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the makers of Jeep Grand Cherokees, claiming the company manufactured unsafe gear selectors that led to their son being crushed in his own driveway.

The 27-year-old actor's 2015 Cherokee rolled backward down a driveway of his home on June 19, pinning him between a mailbox and a security fence.

The suit contends the defective gear selector was poorly designed and manufactured.

"Anton Yelchin was crushed and lingered alive for some time, trapped and suffocating until his death," the lawsuit states.


Victor and Irina Yelchin filed the wrongful death and product liability lawsuit in Los Angeles.

Fiat Chrysler extended its sympathies to Yelchin's parents but said it could not comment on the lawsuit because it had not yet been served with the legal action.

The Cherokee model was among 1.1 million vehicles recalled in April after regulators in the US said its gear shifters have confused drivers, causing the SUVs to roll away unexpectedly and leading to dozens of injuries.

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 its recall of the vehicle. Both the company and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have urged drivers of vehicles subject to the recall to set their parking brakes before getting out of their SUV.

The suit does not say how much Yelchin's parents are seeking in damages, but their lawyer Gary A. Dordick said they want the company to be punished and hope the lawsuit changes its business practices.

Irina Yelchin cried as Dordick said at a news conference that the vehicle maker put profits before safety.

"In spite of our unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families from the same tragedy," Victor Yelchin said.

Anton Yelchin was sent an initial safety recall notice in May, and another notice was sent to the actor seven days after he died, notifying him that the company had a fix for the gear shifter, Dordick said.

"The safety recall was way too little and way too late," the lawyer said.

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The actor died on June 19 2016 when he was crushed by his Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driveway of his Studio City home.

His parents have also filed court documents indicating the actor died without a will and left behind a nearly $1.4 million estate.

The filing states Yelchin left behind at least $641,000 in personal property and had $731,000 in equity in his home.

Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine appear in a scene from Star Trek Beyond. Photo / AP
Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine appear in a scene from Star Trek Beyond. Photo / AP

Court records show they filed to become administrators of their son's estate on Friday July 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The estate filing was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.

The 27-year-old actor played Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, with the latest film Star Trek Beyond already having grossed more than $106 million in its first two weekends domestically.

He was the only child of the Yelchins.

- AP