Kia Motors Faces Lawsuit From Oklahoma Family

Thursday, August 15th 2019, 8:38 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

An Oklahoma family has filed a lawsuit against car manufacturer Kia, saying an engine defect caused a fire, that severely injured two people.

The fire happened while a mother and her son were on vacation in Hawaii.

The Carlton family from the Hughes County town of Calvin, has filed a lawsuit claiming this fire should not have happened.

The lawsuit claims it happened on June 30, while Jordan and his mother Becky Carlton were on vacation and rented the car owned by Avis Budget Group.

Attorney Rick Fried says the undercarriage of the vehicle ignited, resulting in a fire burning its way into the passenger compartment.

“His mother jumped out at probably 40, 45 miles per hour,” said Fried. “Jordan couldn't exit so quickly, so he was stuck in the car. He has ended up with 85 percent of his body burned.”

Doctors gave him a one percent chance of survival and so far, he's beaten the odds, but it's still unclear if he will survive. Becky is also still recovering.

The lawsuit claims Kia was aware of hundreds of previous non-collision fires involving a specific engine, used in this car and previous Kia models.

Attorneys say both Kia and Avis failed to warn people about the risk of non-collision fires in that car, despite those reports, and despite previous recalls for engine fire risks.

Jordan's dad Robert is now staying in Hawaii to be with his son.

"It upsets me greatly to know that this has been going on for years,” said Robert. “There comes a time when something has to be done, something has to change."

Kia released a full statement to News on 6 about the lawsuit:

Kia Motors America (KMA) recognizes that the Carltons, as well as the general public, deserve an understanding of the cause of this incident and, in turn, the ongoing safety of our vehicles. We also recognize that the injuries suffered by the Carltons, particularly Jordan Carlton, are serious and significant.

While KMA will typically not comment about ongoing litigation with respect to questions about a lawsuit, we would like to transparently share the investigative steps taken to identify the underlying cause of this fire. KMA became aware of this incident on 7/8/19 and immediately notified NHTSA for coordination of a joint inspection with the vehicle’s owner, Avis Budget, and the attorney for the family. Because all automobiles contain combustible materials and a fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, each incident must be carefully evaluated by qualified and trained investigators and/or technicians.

Therefore, KMA enlisted internal staff from the U.S. and Korea and two independent U.S. fire experts to join NHTSA engineers plus lawyers and experts for the injured party, amongst others, for the inspection on 7/23/19. The inspection was productive but, as is often the case with a vehicle fire, an initial conclusion was not able to be drawn due to significant vehicle damage. As a result, all parties are working on a protocol for a second and more comprehensive inspection. Should any defect be identified during the course of this entire investigation, KMA will immediately notify NHTSA and commence a recall.

Owners are encouraged to contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 800-333-4542 with any questions or concerns related to this matter.


Avis also this statement:

We are deeply saddened to hear about this accident and our thoughts are with Jordan and Becky Carlton. We rely on the manufacturers and NHTSA to alert us to any issues which may impact the safety of our vehicles and when required, we act appropriately.  There have been no other issues with a 2019 Kia product and as such, this is a tragic isolated incident. 

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