Supreme Court Rejects FCA Appeal on Hacking Lawsuit

January 08, 2019 at 12:44 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that allows plaintiffs to move forward with claims that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV vehicles can be hacked, Reuters reports.

The case began in 2015, when owners reacted to a Wired magazine report that showed how researchers were able to wirelessly break into the infotainment system in a Jeep Cherokee and remotely take control of the throttle, brakes steering and ignition as the SUV was being driven.

The resulting class-action lawsuit, which represents more than 200,000 owners, claims FCA and its suppliers knew about the cybersecurity risk in 2011. FCA conceded at the time that it knew that some of its audio systems could be breached but waited 18 months before telling the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about it.

The complaint charges the company with fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and violation of multiple consumer protection laws.

FCA subsequently fixed the vulnerability problem with a software update for 1.4 million of its vehicles in the U.S. The company argues that no owner’s vehicle was or has since been hacked. It also asserts that the plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue.

A lower U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Ill., rejected the carmaker’s motion in 2017 to dismiss the case, and the Supreme Court has let that ruling stand. Reuters says a jury trial is scheduled to begin in October.