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Defective seat belts lead to $40 million verdict against Kia

The jury in the case of a sixteen-year-old driver who was killed in a car accident while driving a Kia automobile has decided that the automaker was responsible for the girl's wrongful death. Both Kia Motors and the manufacturer of its seat belt buckles, Celltrion DBI Inc., have been ordered to pay the girl's family $40 million in damages.

The girl who was killed was driving a 1999 Kia Sephia when she lost control of the vehicle, struck a sign and was ejected from the vehicle during a rollover. Kia argued in its defense that the girl must not have been wearing her seat belt, but witnesses for the plaintiffs (the girl's family), testified that she was wearing the seat belt.

In the course of the lawsuit, it emerged that officials at Kia were aware of defects in its seat belts in the 1999 models of Kia vehicles. Despite the fact that Kia recalled earlier model vehicles in 2002 for the same seat belt defects, it did not include 1999 or 2000 models in the 2002 recall.

The girl who was killed in the rollover accident suffered her fatal injuries on July 4th, 2004. Miami wrongful death attorneys who followed the news reports of the case noted that, in a bitter irony, Kia later recalled the 1999 and 2000 model year vehicles to repair the seat belt defects in August of 2004.

The Kia Sephia had been a birthday present from the girl's parents. Those same parents were grateful to the jury for their decision holding Kia responsible for the preventable car crash.

Source: al.com "Mobile County jury slaps Kia with $40 million wrongful death verdict" 6/24/2011

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