We are investigating a potential “park-to-reverse” defect in DaimlerChrysler Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks manufactured from June of 2002 through July of 2005. This possible defect may cause drivers to place their trucks in an “illusory park” or “false park,” even though the gear shift indicator reflects that the transmission is in park. The transmission may then slip into reverse and the truck can unexpectedly start moving backwards, if the driver temporarily exits the truck (with the engine on) to close a gate or for some other routine purpose.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) opened an investigation (No. PE04-039) into this “park-to-reverse” issue in Dodge Ram pickup trucks on April 13, 2004. It upgraded its investigation (to No. EA04-025) on August 24, 2004. On October 4, 2005 DaimlerChrysler Corporation announced it was conducting a “Product Improvement Action” to recall its 2003-2005 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty (HD) pickups equipped with diesel engines and automatic transmissions to resolve the “park-to-reverse” issue and other concerns related to this inadvertent rearward movement in these pickup trucks. For identification purposes, the N.H.T.S.A. Campaign ID No. is 05V462000 and DaimlerChrysler refers to it as Campaign No. E17. This recall was the subject of an Engineering Analysis (No. EA04-025) conducted by the Office of Defects Investigation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At the time that DaimlerChrysler Corporation announced this recall, it was aware of 223 reports of such “park-to-reverse” incidents. These incidents included 202 crashes, 21 injuries, and 2 deaths. The recalled Dodge Ram pickup trucks will receive a software modification to equip them with an out-of-park alarm. Approximately 250,000 pickup trucks are affected by this recall.
Our client is a sixty (60) year old kindergarten teacher whose left arm was amputated in a “park-to-reverse” accident on September 25, 2005 – just 9 days before DaimlerChrysler announced its recall of these Dodge Ram pickup trucks. This “park-to-reverse” accident involved a 2004 DaimlerChrysler Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab diesel engine pickup truck (Vehicle Identification No. 3D7KA28C54G192636) with a four (4) speed automatic (Model No. 48RE) transmission. On this occasion, our client pulled her Dodge Ram pickup truck off to the side of the highway so that she could check the warning lights on the horse trailer that she was pulling. After she opened the door and exited the cab, the pickup truck started moving backwards. The rearward movement of the cab door on the Dodge Ram pickup truck caused our client to fall to the ground where the front left wheel ran over her, resulting in internal injuries, fractures, and the eventual amputation of her left arm above the elbow. Fortunately, our client was eventually spotted by a passing motorist who summoned help.