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Proposed Class Action Lawsuit over Shattering Kia Sunroofs

Sep 19, 2016

A New York man is taking legal action against Kia Motors America for failing to address a defect that causes panoramic sunroofs in its vehicles to shatter.

The plaintiff alleges that the panoramic sunroofs on some Kia vehicles can spontaneously shatter, showering shards of glass on the vehicle's occupants, according to Top Class Actions.

The man alleges that even though Kia has admitted it has been "a leader in such incidents," the company still fails to warn drivers about the danger and continues to sell and lease such vehicles without disclosing the risk. The plaintiff says Kia has been aware of this problem for years, and quotes more than a dozen written complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by Kia owners and lessees. They describe how the panoramic sunroofs in their Kia vehicles spontaneously and catastrophically shattered. Some of these complaints were filed as long ago as July 2010.

Occupants of the vehicles say the falling glass has cut them, and the sharp pieces have damaged the interior of the car. Drivers and passengers were also injured when sunroof hardware came loose and fell on them. Kia owners and lessees say Kia dealerships have refused to cover the cost of repair, which can be $1,200 or more.

Kia has never issued a recall for this problem, although other car makers including Volkswagen, Hyundai and Audi recalled vehicles due to similar problems. Kia allegedly claimed the sunroofs shatter only because of impact with objects on the road, according to legal documents.

The New York plaintiff says the panoramic sunroof in his 2012 Kia Optima shattered in November 2014. Neither his Kia dealer nor Kia Motors America was willing to cover the repairs; he filed a claim with his insurance company.

The plaintiff attributes the shattering problem to trends in manufacturing that make automotive glass weaker. To comply with stricter emissions standards, manufacturers use glass thinner, therefore weaker, glass, according to Top Class Actions. In addition, he alleges that manufacturers have degraded the strength of automotive window panes by enlarging the areas of ceramic enamel that form the black bands along the outer edge of glass panes. Testing by the Korean Automobile Testing & Research Institute confirmed that the enamel used on the tempered glass in Kia vehicles makes the glass weaker than even ordinary unstrengthened glass, the plaintiff claims.

The Kia class action lawsuit says the vehicles at issue are the 2011 to 2015 Sorento, Optima and Sportage, and the 2014 and 2015 Soul and Cadenza; these models are referred to as the "Class Vehicles." The New York man seeks to represent a nationwide class of "persons who purchased or leased a Class Vehicle in the United States." He also proposes a subclass consisting those who purchased or leased their vehicle within New York, Top Class Actions reports.

He has asked for a court order requiring Kia to adequately disclose the defect and repair the sunroofs. In addition, he requests damages, restitution, court costs and attorneys' fees.

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