Lawsuit claims keyless ignition factor in carbon monoxide death

The mother of Chasity Glisson, a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning when she inadvertently left her Lexus running in her garage, has filed a wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against Toyota claiming that the Smart Key keyless ignition system allowed her daughter’s Lexus to continue running silently without a key in the ignition.

Kimberlin Nickles filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Broward County naming Toyota, a Lexus auto dealer and the Marabella Premium Apartments as negligent parties. Marabella Apartments is named in the lawsuit for failing to provide proper ventilation.

Nickles contends that her daughter “either inadvertently forgot to shut down the engine of the subject vehicle or pushed the start/stop button in an effort to do so but was unsuccessful.” Apparently Glisson was unaware that her vehicle was still running when she parked her car in the garage and entered her home. She was found dead after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. Her boyfriend, Timothy Maddock, was critically injured in the incident.

The Smart Key system allows for keyless entry into vehicles and also remote engine start and stop. Nickles claims that the electronic key system requires consumers to go against a deep-rooted and ingrained behaviors and that it does not have protection for consumers who mistakenly leave their vehicles with it running or those who inadvertently start their vehicle after they have left it.

This is not the first death attributed to the keyless entry system. In the exact same scenario, a Queens woman’s partner, a 79-year-old lawyer, died of carbon monoxide poisoning and she was suffered brain damage. In that case, the woman filed a similar wrongful death lawsuit in October of 2010. (Reference New York Daily News.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is evaluating emerging safety concerns regarding keyless ignition systems after numerous drivers have contacted them. (Reference Update FMVSS No. 114 for Keyless Ignition) Following are the concerns as reported to the NHTSA:

  • The inability to shut down the engine in emergency situations
  • The ability to shut down the engine without putting their vehicle in “park”. This has resulted in drivers walking away from their vehicle and it rolling away.
  • Drivers putting their vehicle in park but inadvertently leaving the engine active, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in garages.

Wrongful death lawsuits often stem out of product liability cases when a defective or poorly designed product results in the death of a person. Washington state’s wrongful death statute allows the loved ones of a person killed due to an unreasonably dangerous product to recover damages in a civil action against the entity whose negligent or wrongful act resulted in the family member’s death.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We are a personal injury law firm, representing wrongful death and product liability cases for more than 40 years.

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Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.

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