The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear Fiat Chrysler’s appeal in a class action lawsuit concerning allegations that its Jeeps and other trucks are vulnerable to hacking, one of the first legal cases associating automotive cyber security risks.
The court’s action paves the way for an October trial in the litigation concerning the question of whether truck purchasers can take legal action over hypothetical future injuries without having been actual victims of cyber security attacks on their automobiles. Fiat Chrysler has received significant support from industry groups in the dispute.
Fiat Chrysler and Harman have rejected the allegations, calling the lawsuit meritless and stating the plaintiffs lack the necessary legal standing to bring the case.
Fiat Chrysler stated it looked forward to presenting its case at trial.
Three car owners from Illinois, Michigan and Missouri in 2015 took legal action against the U.S. subsidiary of the Italian-controlled automaker and Harman International Industries, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics which manufactures the Uconnect infotainment system set up in various Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler trucks.
According to the lawsuit, cyber criminals are capable of gaining access to the infotainment system, permitting them to take over safety-critical functions including acceleration, braking, steering and ignition.
The plaintiffs accuse that both companies were aware of the defects for years, saying cyber security researchers uncovered the vulnerabilities as early as 2011. The issue received attention when a 2015 article by technology magazine Wired discussed researchers hacking a Jeep Cherokee while it was driving.
The consumers have stated that, had the defects been revealed, they never would have bought the vehicles in the first place or paid less for them. They also stated that these issues decrease their vehicles’ resale value.