Chrysler and Harmon Hacking Lawsuit Still Alive

A Fiat Chrysler and Harmon infotainment system lawsuit survives based on a few claims.

Chrysler and Harmon Hacking Lawsuit Still Alive

Posted in News

— A Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) and Harmon infotainment system hacking lawsuit won't be completely dismissed, but Chrysler did succeed in getting most of the claims thrown out.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 against Fiat Chrysler and Harmon International Industries by plaintiffs Brian Flynn, Michael Keith, and George and Kelly Brown. The plaintiffs allege a number of claims related to defects in the Uconnect infotainment systems.

Those systems were manufactured by Harmon and installed in some of FCA’s 2013-2015 vehicles, and according to the plaintiffs, the Uconnect systems allow hackers to take remote control of the affected vehicles.

The plaintiffs allege the recall of 1.4 million vehicles didn't truly fix the hacking threat that could come through the infotainment systems. According to the lawsuit, updating software won't protect customers and will only give people a false sense of security about their vehicles.

The plaintiffs told the judge the Uconnect systems should be disconnected from the controller area network (CAN) bus that connects vital systems together.

According to the plaintiffs, FCA knew the vehicles could be hacked at least 18 months before the recall was ordered and decided to conduct the recall only because the media latched onto a story about researchers controlling a Jeep Cherokee in a controlled test.

Even though the driver of the Jeep Cherokee knew about the experiment, the driver was still shocked at the amount of control the researchers had over the Jeep. The driver lost the ability to control the acceleration and felt the Cherokee slow down on a long overpass.

In addition, the hacking researchers were able to control the radio, windshield wipers and air conditioning system.

Attorneys for Chrysler told the judge there is no evidence hackers have affected the vehicles since those vehicles were remedied under the recall and none of the owners say they changed their driving habits due to the hacking incident.

Additionally, FCA argued the plaintiffs never said what parts of the vehicles were susceptible to hackers since the vehicles were updated during the recall.

The judge granted in part and denied in part Chrysler's motion to dismiss the suit, with the emphasis here on "granted." The judge dismissed most of the claims, three of those dismissed with prejudice, but ruled the plaintiffs do have standing to pursue damages for loss in value and overpayments for the vehicles.

However, two plaintiffs lack standing to pursue damages for the fear of risk of injury or death in the future, and the judge dismissed claims concerning declaratory relief that would have ordered FCA to "fix" the alleged defects or refund the purchase price of the affected vehicles.

The Fiat Chrysler/Harmon hacking lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois - Flynn, et al. v. FCA US LLC, et al.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Christopher Cueto, LTD.