U.S. District Court Judge Matthew W. McFarland, recently issued an order denying class certification the alleged defective sunroof lawsuit between plaintiff Tom Kondash and defendant Kia Motors America, Inc. (Kia). According to the order, Kondash’s class action request was denied because his expert witnesses did not provide reliable testimonies.
According to Judge McFarland’s order, Kondash also failed to identify a defect that affected the vehicles he lists in his complaint. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an internal investigation at Kia and was not able to “conclusively point to a defect in the sunroofs” that allegedly causes them to shatter, according to the order.
According to the original complaint, Kondash claimed Kia was aware of its inherent issues and failed to warn its customers while it continued to sell the “defected” models, which included:
- 2011-2015 Sorrento;
- 2011- 1025 Optima; and
- 2011-2015 Sportage.
“Kondash contends that the common defect is tied to the size of the sunroof glass, its curvature, its ceramic print area, and the manner in which the sunroof is fastened to the vehicle,” Judge McFarland wrote. “Yet, the class vehicles differ in almost all of these regards.”
Judge McFarland also noted the individual variances among class members, which included whether or not they purchased their Kia vehicles new or used or whether they went to a Kia dealership or elsewhere for repairs.
Tom Kondash, and several others, originally filed a lawsuit in July of 2015 against Kia. Kondash claimed Kia “failed to meet several demands,” which included failing to stabilize and secure the glass used in its panoramic sunroofs. In 2012 he bought a new Kia Optima from an Ohio dealership. He claims in mid-July of 2015 he was driving on the highway with his wife with the sunroof closed. They then heard a loud noise as the sunroof burst into pieces and fell onto them, causing minor injuries to his wife.
The original complaint stated several Kia models had issues with its sunroofs and more than 200 drivers had complained about having their sunroofs “shatter suddenly without warning.”
Kia responded by claiming its sunroofs shatter “only as a result of impacts from objects on the roadway.” The company was made aware of the issues surrounding its sunroofs following a defect investigation performed by NHTSA.
In May 2019, the court received a petition for a rehearing en banc. A rehearing en banc is when a case is heard before all of the judges of a court rather than by a panel of judges selected from them. According to court documents, the original panel that reviewed the petition for the rehearing found the issues raised were “fully considered upon the original submission and decision of the case.”