Ten of the world’s biggest carmakers were sued over claims that keyless ignitions lacking an automatic shut-off endanger drivers and passengers with deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
Also named as defendants were Hyundai, including Kia; Nissan, including Infiniti; Toyota, including Lexus; and Volkswagen, including Bentley. The suit alleges the automakers have known for years about increased dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning when people mistakenly leave their keyless ignition vehicles running after they’ve left the auto, taking their key fobs with them. Now 10 auto makers in the United States have been hit with a lawsuit claiming the issue has resulted in 13 deaths due to what is said to be a “defect” with the vehicles.
They also accused the automakers of failing to install an cheap feature that would automatically turn off unattended engines after a period of time.
“Plaintiffs believed the automakers’ repeated promises that the affected vehicles were safe”, the complaint said. Notably, Ford and GM filed patents that included language about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning – but, according to the suit, though the two automakers “openly recognized the risky consequences associated with keyless fobs…” It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
BMW, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota declined to comment. Some older model vehicles with keyless ignitions aren’t equipped with these features, however, the lawsuit claims. Whitney Eichinger, a Ford spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call after normal business hours seeking comment.
Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Los Angeles.
U.S. District Judge James Selna in July 2013 approved a US$1.6 billion settlement to resolve claims that Toyotas lost value because of that defect.
The case is Draeger v. Toyota Motor Sales USA, 15-CV-06491, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).