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Orange County Woman Sues Chrysler, FCA Group After Headrest Deployed While She Was Driving

— January 24, 2019

An Orange County woman recently sued FCA US, formerly known as the Chrysler Group, after the headrest in her 2014 Dodge Avenger snapped forward while she was driving.

Wilma Perez of Orange County recently filed a lawsuit against Chrysler after her Active Head Restraint ‘AHR’ deployed while she was “driving her 2014 Dodge Avenger” when she was traveling along Interstate 95 toward Dayton Beach in May 2018. Now she uses zip ties to hold her headrest together, though she’s worried about “how to keep herself and her grandchildren safe while on the road.”

What happened, though? According to Perez, while she was driving she heard a loud pop. In a statement regarding the incident, she added, “for a moment I thought it was a bullet shattering the window or a rock. I just couldn’t figure it out.” Upon arriving at her destination, she discovered her headrest had deployed. For those who don’t know, the ‘AHR’ “is a device found in Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles and deploy in the event of a rear-end crash or violent force,” according to Perez and her attorney, Robby Bell.

Dodge Avenger
Dodge Avenger; image courtesy of IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons,

When explaining the purpose of the ‘AHR,’ Bell added, “It’s supposed to deploy to minimize or reduce the gap of the person’s head to the headrest to prevent or reduce whiplash.”

However, Perez wasn’t in an accident during her trip. Instead, her ‘AHR’ deployed for no reason. Shortly after the incident, she allegedly “took it to the Chrysler dealership where she normally gets her oil changes and was shocked that what she calls a defect wasn’t listed as a recall.” She was also alarmed to learn that, to repair it, would cost nearly $800 out of her own pocket.

Not long after, Perez decided to hire Bell and together the two filed a class action lawsuit, especially after learning that Perez wasn’t the first driver to experience such an incident. Bell said:

“The reason why we are bringing the case is because this is a safety issue. Our belief is that there is thousands, if not millions, of cars nationwide that have these headrests and in the event that this happens while someone is driving, especially on the driver’s side, it can cause major issues.”

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there have been many “complaints claiming the same thing had happened.” One such complaint read:

“The front passenger headrest active head restraint safety device deployed without warning during normal driving. There was no impact, etc., that would cause the device to deploy. The device errantly deployed. Had a passenger been in the vehicle this could have resulted in serious injury. The vehicle was not in motion. Through online research, I noted that this seems to be a common issue. But I do not see a recall on it.”

In response to Perez’s lawsuit, FCA US, formerly known as the Chrysler Group, said “they had no record of Perez contacting a dealer to address her issue.” A spokesperson for the company added:

“FCA US vehicles meet or exceed all federal safety requirements. Customer safety is paramount at FCA US. Evaluation confirms that even in the rare event of inadvertent deployment there is no unreasonable risk of injury. Absent such risk, there is no safety defect. We cannot discuss this matter further at this time as it is in litigation.”


Orange County woman files lawsuit, claims headrest deployed while she was driving

Central Florida woman sues after Dodge headrest snaps forward while driving

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