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.
Manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. have long known of the risks and failed to fix the defect even as 13 people have died, consumers said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
The allegations come as a battle over a different kind of ignition defect is being waged in New York federal court. Last year, General Motors Co. agreed to compensate victims killed or hurt when ignition switches requiring a key shut off when accidentally jostled. The defect, found in millions of cars, would cause a loss of power to brakes, steering and air bags.
The car buyers in the new, keyless litigation seek to sue the companies as a nationwide group for failing to recall the vehicles.
“Drivers have parked their affected vehicles inside their garages and removed the keyless fobs, only to later discover that the engines never actually turned off,” according to the complaint. “As a result, deadly carbon monoxide — often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because it is a colorless, odorless gas — can fill enclosed spaces and spread to the attached homes.”
Aaron Fowles, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. unit, declined to comment on the Los Angeles lawsuit. Whitney Eichinger, a Ford spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call after normal business hours seeking comment.
The case is Draeger v. Toyota Motor Sales USA, 15-CV-06491, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).