Chrysler sued over Jeep ignition-switch failures

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DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler Group LLC was sued over allegedly faulty ignition switches in Jeeps, in a follow-up to more than 120 lawsuits General Motors faces over the same defect.

Both automakers are accused of employing ignition switches that can be unexpectedly turned off, cutting power to brakes, steering and airbags and causing potentially deadly loss of control.

The Chrysler lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., follows the automaker’s announcement last week that it would recall almost 800,000 Grand Cherokees and Commanders made from 2005 to 2007 because a driver’s knee could bump the key out of the “on” position. 

Latoya Lumpkin, who owns a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee, filed the lawsuit as a class action, seeking to represent all U.S. owners of the recalled Chrysler vehicles. She’s asking for damages for these owners for lost use, repairs and diminished value, as well as an order to prohibit driving them until repairs are made.

“It’s very similar to the General Motors ignition switch recall,” Lumpkin’s attorney Jonathan Michaels said in an interview today. The alleged ignition defect is a safety concern, he said. 

General Motors has recalled 2.59 million small cars with ignition switch flaws that the company has linked to at least 13 deaths. The lawsuits against GM include 30 filed in the U.S. and Canada over deaths and injuries connected to ignition failures.

Chrysler hasn’t been served with the lawsuit yet, Michael Palese, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail today. “It would be inappropriate to respond until we’ve studied what it alleges.”

Chrysler said last week that it knew of one accident and no injuries and was doing the recall out of “an abundance of caution.”

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