Oct. 26--Parents of a 3-year-old boy have filed a federal lawsuit against General Motors, claiming the company is liable for a GMC Yukon shifting from park into reverse and running over the boy, killing him last year.
The boy's mother, Rayven Barfield of Macon, and Joseph Barfield, of Twiggs County, contend General Motors was aware of a gear shift defect since the early 2000s, but failed to warn customers that the vehicle could be put into gear without the brakes being applied while the ignition is switched to an "accessory" position, according to the lawsuit.
"GM knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that said vehicle was unreasonably dangerous to the human body when being so used in a foreseeable manner," according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on Tuesday.
A General Motors representative declined comment Wednesday, citing the pending litigation. Attempts to reach lawyers representing the Barfields were unsuccessful.
According to the lawsuit:
On Sept. 13, 2015, Rayven Barfield drove her 2001 GMC Yukon to a friend's house on Parker Road in Jones County.
She parked in the driveway and left her keys in the sport utility vehicle after turning off the ignition.
About two hours later, Barfield heard someone yelling that the SUV was rolling down the driveway. She ran toward the driveway and saw her son, 3-year-old Joseph Barfield Jr., was in the driver's seat with the door open.
While the SUV rolled backward, the boy fell out of the vehicle and was run over by a front tire. He later was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The Barfields contend the Yukon's ignition-park interlock system and key ignition switch components were defective and that the vehicle wasn't properly tested to ensure safety.
"The unreasonably dangerous nature of the subject vehicle and its component parts ... created a high probability that the vehicle, when parked, particularly on inclined surfaces, could unintentionally and without warning become mobile," according to the lawsuit.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.
Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon
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