On June 23, 2011 the Alabama Supreme Court awarded a $40 Million wrongful death verdict against Kia Motors of America, Kia Motors Corporation, and DBI/Celltrion. The case involved the A97 seat belt buckle that was in Kia Sephia and Sportage car models from the years 1995 to 2000. The buckles had a safety defect which caused them to be susceptible to "false latching". This meant that the user believed they were properly belted when they were not. When an accident occurs, the latch can become unlatched and increase the risk of serious injury or death.
According to records, in 2002 the U.S. Government inquired about the problem and in December of 2002 Kia issued a safety recall for model years 1995-1998. The model years 1999-2000 were not included in the recall even though they had the same seat belt buckle with the same defect. 189,000 cars were recalled but another 251,000 cars were not recalled and the owners of those vehicles were not notified of the possibly dangerous situation.
The government then inquired in 2004 why the model years 1999-2000 had not been included and asked for samples of the seat belt buckles be sent for independent testing. Kia did not provide the buckles and in August of 2004 told the U.S. government it would expand the recall to include model years 1999-2000.
Unfortunatly, the recall came too late for Tiffany Stabler. Tiffany turned 16 in May of 2004 and was given a used 1999 Kia Sephia as a gift from her father. Her father had the car serviced at a local Kia dealership and had all recall work done prior to giving his daughter the car. He had no idea that the seat belt defect existed in the vehicle. He had done everything in his power to make sure the car was safe for his daughter. Since Kia had not recalled that particular model year, even though they knew the defect was present, the defective seat belt buckles remained in the car. On July 4, 2004 Tiffany was driving the car and wearing her seat belt when she lost control of the car and was in an accident. The seat belt failed and Tiffany was ejected from the car. She later died from her injuries.
According to Tiffanys father's attorneys, "Tiffany's death could have and should have been prevented. Hopefully the verdict will result in a change in business practices so that when a product manufacturer knows that its product has a safety defect, it will make full and complete disclosure and promptly recall all of the defective products and not just some of them."
If you are in need of a Myrtle Beach SC wrongful death attorney, Conway lawyer Dirk Derrick at the The Derrick Law Firm has been handling wrongful death cases in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Conway SC for over 23 years. Please call 843-248-7486 today.