BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Another federal lawsuit is expected to be filed against Kia – this time on behalf of a Buffalo family who lost their son in a fatal crash on the Kensington Expressway last month. Attorneys for that family say Kia has refused to take proper steps to ensure their cars are safe.
Numerous class action lawsuits have been filed against Kia in connection to the Kia Challenge on TikTok. And yet, another lawsuit is expected to be filed – this time in federal court in Buffalo on behalf of that Buffalo family.
Just over two weeks ago – a group of teenagers from Buffalo were in a stolen Kia Sportage and crashed at the 33-198 split.
Kevin Payne, 16, was one of four teens who died. His family has retained MLG Attorneys at Law, a California-based law firm, which has already filed a class-action lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai. Attorneys across the country claim that Kia intentionally built cars without standard safety ignition features.
“They lack an immobilizer, which most manufactured vehicles have had since about 2010 as a standard feature Kia supplied them as an option and therefore, customers were sold vehicles that did not have a standard safety feature,” said Ken McClain, an attorney with Humphrey, Farrington, McClain, based in Missouri, “Kia was selling vehicles for many years and still are that do not have the immobilizer device.”
McClain says that discovery in civil cases have not proceeded far enough to know what Kia’s motive was to offer immobilizers as an option.
Attorneys say Kia needs to be held accountable in court, since the car manufacturer has not issued a recall.
Kia has responded by offering consumer free steering wheel locks to consumers and partnering with local police departments such as the Town of Amherst Police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office to reduce car thefts. Hyundai is offering a $200 vehicle fix for anyone who wants an immobilizer.
“It recognizes that the defect is real, number two, though the revenue that they’ve chosen while better than nothing would be going back to my seat belt analogy to giving out rope to people to tie themselves into the vehicle as opposed to a seat belt,” McClain said.
Some local police departments are not working with Kia.
“We will not be participating in handing out these steering wheel locks, these clubs, we’re not going to take the responsibility of managing who has a Kia, how many Kia’s you have, the logistics of that are outside the bounds of what I feel is the responsibility of the police department,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
A 16-year-old boy from Buffalo who was driving that Kia Sportage faces charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal possession of stolen property. Prosecutors have indicated that the driver could face more serious charges.
The other teens who died in the crash are: Marcus Webster, 19, Swazine Swindle, 17, and Ahjanae Harper, 14. A 14-year-old girl survived the crash after receiving care in ECMC’s ICU.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.