Historically, automobile sunroofs have been modestly sized, spanning just a small portion of the roof over the driver and front passenger seats. Starting in the mid-2000s, manufacturers introduced a substantially larger style of “panoramic” sunroof, which spans almost the whole roof. These sunroofs are aesthetically pleasing, and thus command a premium price, but also pose new and significant engineering challenges. Replacing metal roofs with large plates of glass requires precision in the strengthening, attachment, and stabilization of the glass.
Several manufacturers have failed to meet these demands, with at least three manufacturers issuing safety recalls because their panoramic sunroofs were spontaneously shattering.
Several Kia models have the same problem. More than two hundred Kia drivers have complained that their panoramic sunroofs shattered suddenly and without warning. The shattering occurs so powerfully that some startled drivers have compared the sound to a gunshot followed by shards of glass raining down on vehicle occupants.
Kia admits in a submission to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that its vehicles are “a leader in such incidents, but even though its competitors and the federal government have acknowledged a seemingly obvious truth—that shattering sunroofs are dangerous—Kia not only refuses to warn drivers of the danger, but also continues to sell and lease the vehicles without disclosing the defect to consumers.
As alleged, Kia’s conduct violates well-established consumer protection laws of numerous states, including but not limited to New York. On behalf of the classes he proposes to represent, Plaintiff seek awards of damages and appropriate equitable relief, including an order enjoining Kia from continuing to sell vehicles with defective sunroofs and requiring Kia to disclose the defect to current owners and leasees of the Class Vehicles (2011-2015 model year Sorento, Optima, and Sportage, and the 2014-2015 model year Soul and Cadenza models)