Kia Exploding Sunroof Case Could Continue

Kia Motors America, Inc. (Kia) could soon be headed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals over alleged defects in its sunroofs found in some of its models. Tom Kondash, and several others, originally filed a lawsuit in July of 2015 against the auto manufacturer. Now however, the court has 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.” The petition then went to the full court. At this time no judge has requested a vote on the suggestion for a rehearing en banc, which means the petition has been denied, according to court documents.

The case originated when Kondash claimed Kia “failed to meet several demands,” which included failing to stabilize and secure the glass used in its panoramic sunroofs. In 2012 Kondash 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.”

Although Kia admitted to “being a leader in such incidents” Kondash claimed the auto manufacturer was not only aware of its inherent issues but also failed to warn its customers of the issues while it continued to sell the “defected” models. The alleged “defected” vehicle models discussed throughout the lawsuit included:

  • 2011-2015 Sorrento,
  • 2011- 1025 Optima, and
  • 2011-2015 Sportage.

According to the company, in 2011 it offered an upgrade feature for its vehicles made in that year, the feature was panoramic sunroofs. The sunroofs were made of tempered or laminated glass that attached to tracks mounted into the vehicle’s frame. The materials used for its sunroofs also came into question during the early stages of the lawsuit.

“The Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute, a vehicle safety testing institute, has concluded that the enamel used for ceramic print areas in Kia vehicles impairs the strength of the glass, making the glass not only less durable than the usual toughened glass, but also less durable than ordinary glass,” a portion of court documents reads.

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 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Throughout the ongoing proceedings Kia fought to seal certain documents, claiming they contained trade secrets. A judge ruled not to seal said documents because the case was over alleged shatter-prone sunroofs.

“Kia contends that the district court erred by impermissibly including in its trade secret determination consideration of whether access to the documents was of public importance. This is not the case,” the judges wrote.

Currently the court has received a petition for a rehearing en banc but has yet to disclose a date for further action.

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5 Responses to Kia Exploding Sunroof Case Could Continue

  1. Lisa Goin says:

    This has happened to our 2012 Sorento. Dealership says it’s not covered through them or the extra warranty we are paying for and insurance says they are classifying it as just wear and tear like glass just explodes after so long on the road. Kia needs to remedy this. How many more people go through this and never hear about the possible negligence on the manufacturer’s part. There could be thousands of people not reporting this issue assuming a rock or something must have caused it. Ridiculous

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  3. Brianna Sanders says:

    I have a 2023 kia sportage with the panoramic sunroof. it exploded on the highway with my three kids in the car. i have not had the car for even two months. it sounded as if someone shot a shotgun at our car.

    • Rita Kapp says:

      I had the same problem with my 2019 Kia Sportage, where my Kia was parked inside my garage and the sunroof exploded. It happened on Friday 20 March this year and we were just told by Kia that we need to claim it from the insurance as they have never heard of this happening in South Africa!!! I am so frustrated!!! I am trying to find out how to let them take responsibility for this. I can just imagine how it should feel when this happens while driving.

  4. Patti Oest says:

    My sunroof just shattered in my 2023 KIA Sportage as I was driving to work. There was no one in front of me and nothing hit it. Sounded as if a bomb went off, just a big kaboom and then flapping sound as if I blew a tire, and sounded like it was raining. I pulled over, no flat and when I looked on top, my whole sunroof had exploded and the raining sound was glass falling onto my cloth cover, which I was so grateful not to have had open or I would’ve been covered and most likely wrecked. I was so shaken up. I had to drive holding the cloth cover so it didn’t rip off. The service advisor at Smart KIA in Davenport, IA, was extremely condescending telling me that tempered glass wouldn’t do that. I explained there was nothing around me and if something had hit my sunroof so hard to make such a loud noise, that it would’ve come right through the fabric cover. I also paid extra when I purchased my brand new KIA for the extra warranty for extra coverage. There is not one dent, scratch, nothing on the body of my vehicle. My insurance is covering repair, however, I do not believe this is their responsibility. The service advisor was extremely rude and refused to look into this matter. Since this happening, I have found this has happened to several and I am just wondering why KIA isn’t trying to resolve the issue.

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