FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Moritz Kia dealership in Fort Worth and Discount Motors, an Arlington dealer in pre owned vehicles, which is part of the Moritz corporate dealership group, allegedly disabled the airbag systems on a 2007 Kia Sedona minivan causing the deaths of a Fort Worth couple according to a lawsuit filed in Tarrant County District Court.
The lawsuit was brought by the victims' four daughters including three teenage girls who witnessed the deaths of their parents in a head-on-collision during a car trip to their family reunion on July 19, 2013. The family reunion was set to celebrated the 90th Birthday of their grandmother who was also killed in the accident.
Fifty-seven year old Mark Burns and his fifty-three year old wife Darla of Fort Worth were killed just three weeks after purchasing the 2007 Kia Sedona from Discount Motors in Arlington, Texas. The Burns were wearing their seatbelts, but the vehicle's airbags did not deploy. It is a crime in Texas for a dealer or a repair facility to disable an airbag system and it is a violation of federal law.
Moritz Kia had serviced the vehicle for airbag issues over three years in response to complaints by a prior owner who later traded it in to Moritz Kia. Moritz Kia then sold the troubled vehicle internally to its pre owned dealer, Discount Motors.
Discount Motors of Arlington turned a five thousand dollar profit by selling the Kia Sedona minivan with disabled airbags to Mr. and Mrs. Burns according to a lawsuit filed by Dallas Crashworthiness Attorney and auto safety expert, Todd Tracy.
"When dealerships put profit over safety, people die. Three of Mr. and Mrs. Burns' children riding in the back seat had to watch their parents horrifically die in what should have been a survivable auto accident. This is a prime example of what happens when a major Fort Worth car dealership puts its bottom line profits over concerns for consumer safety."
The lawsuit alleges that Moritz Kia and Discount Motors:
- removed the fuse that controlled the airbag system;
- disconnected the cable to the front airbag deployment sensor;
- and fraudulently claimed to have replaced the passenger seat sensors in which Mrs. Burns was killed.
According to the lawsuit, Moritz Kia in Fort Worth had received numerous complaints from a prior owner of the KIA Sedona about its SRS/airbag warning light over a three year period before the fatal accident occurred. The airbag warning light continually illuminated indicating that the entire airbag system was deactivated.
In mid December of 2012, the minivan's prior owner returned to Moritz Kia for a second time with the SRS/airbag light on, along with a host of other electrical issues. Moritz Kia charged its customer more than one-thousand dollars to replace part of the passenger side seat airbag weight sensors. In fact, the lawsuit alleges the seat assembly was not replaced because it was no longer made by KIA according to the company's own internal service bulletin.
Attorney Todd Tracy says, "It was impossible for Moritz Kia to have replaced the front passenger seat that is still in the vehicle because that seat was no longer made. Moritz charged for expensive parts they didn't install. Not only was it fraudulent and deceptive, it was deadly."
Three weeks later, the prior owner of the minivan returned to Moritz KIA's Fort Worth service department because the airbag warning light was staying on again.
Despite these chronic airbag safety issues, Moritz Kia accepted the vehicle as a trade in late April of 2013. The airbag plagued KIA minivan was then sold internally to the Discount Motors dealership in Arlington because the minivan was not Moritz KIA lot worthy. Neither Moritz Kia nor Discount Motors ever inspected or evaluated the safety plagued vehicle for airbag safety issues after accepting the KIA Sedona minivan back on trade.
The lawsuit alleges that Moritz Kia had the motive to remove the airbag fuse and disconnect the front airbag sensor because they could not properly repair the vehicle and they simply wanted to get rid of a problem vehicle. The lawsuit further alleges that Discount Motors had the motive to remove the airbag fuse and disconnect the front airbag sensor because you cannot sell a vehicle with its airbag warning lights on.
One month after Discount Motors bought the plagued vehicle from Moritz KIA, Mr. and Mrs. Burns purchased the pre-owned KIA minivan from Discount Motors, but according to the lawsuit they were never told that the minivan:
- had been involved in two accidents,
- had been in the shop three times for SRS/airbag issues,
- had been in the shop two times for electrical issues,
- and that its airbag system had been deactivated.
Todd Tracy, "This tragic case should serve as a warning to consumers across the country. In my crashworthiness law practice we have found that turning off airbag systems in order to dump problem cars back on the public is an all too common problem. Moreover, this case exposes how CARFAX reports can not be trusted to tell the full history of a vehicle."
The lawsuit also accuses Moritz Kia of selectively choosing which service records to furnish to CARFAX. Records uncovered in the case indicate that Moritz failed to notify CARFAX that the vehicle had experienced repeated SRS/airbag and electrical issues or that the vehicle had been repaired by Moritz for an accident.
According to the accident investigation by state troopers, the Burns were killed when the driver of an approaching car suffering from fatigue and a diabetes medical condition crossed the center stripe and hit the Burn's KIA Sedona minivan head on at 70 miles per hour.
An analysis of the crash by automotive engineer Neil Hannemann found that had the airbag system not been disabled, the restraint system would have provided life-saving protection for the Burns. Hannemann concluded that Moritz and Discount Motors' negligence was the cause of the fatal injuries.
Case Reference: Cause No. 236-274469-14 -- 236th Judicial District, Tarrant County, Texas
Vehicle Reference: 2007 Kia Sedona Minivan -- VIN# KNDMB233X76111868
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SOURCE Tracy Law Firm