Kia, Hyundai and the United States of Litigation
Perhaps you’ve heard about the lawsuit filed by seven U.S. cities, all run by Democrats, against two Korean car companies — Kia and Hyundai — for the alleged crime of (no fooling) making their cars too easy to steal.
If you needed proof that in the United States of Litigation, anybody can sue anybody for just about anything, this lawsuit is Exhibit A.
The cities allege that the car companies failed to equip their vehicles with the kind of technology that would prevent cars from starting without a key. Apparently there were videos on TikTok showing wannabe thieves how easy it is to steal a Kia or a Hyundai.
So instead of cracking down on car thieves — that might be seen as harsh, you know, as “anti-criminal” — progressive cities figured it was a lot easier to crack down on car companies. Welcome to America circa 2023.
Baltimore, which joined St. Louis, Cleveland, San Diego, Milwaukee, Seattle and New York City in demanding that Kia and Hyundai pay damages for “public nuisances” resulting from auto thefts, said that “Vehicle theft poses a serious threat to public safety — it goes hand in hand with reckless driving, which in turn causes injuries and death.” Oh wait, there’s more. “It also results in increased violence,” according to the lawsuit, “as car owners may attempt to stop someone attempting to steal their vehicle.” The lawsuit also contends that, “It consumes scarce law enforcement and emergency resources and deprives the public of safe streets and sidewalks.”
Rather than go to court and contest the charges — where, who knows, a jury might decide that having a car, even if it’s not yours, is a fundamental American right — Kia and Hyundai settled … for $200 million. Most of the money, we’re told, will go to people whose cars were stolen.
Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to inject a note of sanity into this craziness. “It’s nice to hear progressive cities say they care about crime,” the Journal editorial board wrote, “but how about targeting the criminals rather than what they steal?”
But that, of course, would make too much sense. I mean, why blame criminals for stealing cars when you can blame car companies for making cars that, supposedly, are too easy to steal? Not too many years ago this would be seen as some kind of joke. Not anymore.
So, where will this thinking lead us? Well, for openers, should progressive cities sue drugstore chains for their decision to put stuff they sell on shelves — that are accessible to looters?
Is it the fault of looters for looting — or is it the fault of drug store operators for making it so easy to loot?
And should cities run by Democrats sue companies that make tasty, sugary, cookies and cakes that are so delicious that Americans can’t resist them … and get fat?
Before you say, “That’s ridiculous,” consider this: If those tasty, sugary treats didn’t taste so good, people wouldn’t eat them and we wouldn’t have an obesity problem in this country.
What about thieves who break into your home while you’re at work and steal your TV, your jewelry, your couch and anything else they can get their hands on?
Is it really their fault that the lock on your front door was so easily breached? Shouldn’t we target our anger at the real culprit: The companies that make crummy locks?
Isn’t it bad enough that with so many Americans having nothing good to say about criminals — do we really want to pile on and blame them for stealing stuff from your house?
So here’s what I’m thinking: If you can’t resist eating cookies and cakes, let me know. If you steal from stores because it’s really easy to steal from stores, send me a note. If you break into houses to take stuff that doesn’t belong to you, give me a call. Maybe we could get a few class action lawsuits going and get multi-million-dollar settlements from corporations that would rather pay up than go to court.
And while we’re at it, maybe we should just toss common sense over the side and join those progressives who don’t believe in personal responsibility, which apparently is an idea whose time has come — and gone.
Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.
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