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An Alabama jury has returned a whopping $40 million verdict against Kia Motors. The suit involved 16-year-old Tiffany Stabler, who was fatally injured after being ejected from the vehicle during an accident.

The plaintiffs alleged that a faulty seatbelt buckle was to blame for the girl’s death and it appears that jury agreed. See the story form The Star here.

In 2002 Kia recalled some 189,000 model year 1995-1998 vehicles due to safety defect in the seatbelt buckle that made them more susceptible to “false latching” but failed to recall an additional 251,000 vehicles from 1999 and 2000 despite the fact that the vehicles had the same exact defective buckles.

The victim’s father purchased his daughter the 1999 Kia Sephia as a gift for her 16th birthday in May of 2004. Before handing the car over to his daughter he took the car into the dealership and had all the maintenance done to ensure that the car was safe.

In July, Stabler lost control of the vehicle and was killed in accident in which she was ejected from the vehicle. Just one month later Kia finally decided to issue a recall for the seatbelt buckles on the vehicle Stabler was driving at the time of the accident.

Unfortunately for Stabler and her family the recall came too late.

“Tiffany’s father would never have given his little girl that car if he thought it was unsafe,” said Skip Finkbohner, one of the family’s attorneys. “While the jury’s verdict does not change the fact that Tiffany’s death could have been and should have been prevented, hopefully it will result in a change in business practices so that when a product manufacturer knows that its product has a safety defect, it will make full and complete disclosure and promptly recall all of the defective products and not just some of them.”

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