City of Buffalo sues Kia, Hyundai over easy theft of vehicles
The City of Buffalo accused Hyundai Motor America and Kia America Inc. in a federal lawsuit Thursday of creating a public nuisance by failing to install industry-standard anti-theft devices in their vehicles.
The city’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, said that Hyundai’s and Kia’s decisions not to install immobilizers in nearly three-quarters of 2015 vehicles has “opened the floodgates to vehicle theft, crime sprees, reckless driving, and public harm.”
Buffalo police reported a 2,000% increase in the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles in January 2023, compared to a year earlier, according to court papers in U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Both Hyundai’s and Kia’s American operations are headquartered in California.
City officials said in a press release that Buffalo will join other cities, including Seattle, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Madison and Milwaukee in “multidistrict litigation” to hold Kia and Hyundai accountable “for placing profits over safety and manufacturing, distributing, and marketing cars that are dangerously easy to steal.”
The city’s lawsuit claims that vehicle thefts constitute a “grave threat to public safety” and deprives the public of safe streets and sidewalks.
Five passengers were ejected from the vehicle, with three of them killed at the scene and another passenger dying later at a hospital.
The city is seeking a court order forcing the car manufacturers to “abate the public nuisance.” It also seeks actual, compensatory and punitive damages.
The city is being represented by Corporation Counsel Cavette A. Chambers and Keller Rohrback LLP, a Seattle based law firm.
Several Western New York residents also have joined a class-action suit brought against Kia by a California-based law firm representing consumers.
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