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Class Claims Hyundai Sunroofs Explode

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The sunroof on the 2012-2013 Hyundai Veloster "explodes without warning," turning the car into a potential death trap, a family claims in a federal class action.

Linda, Sonia and Fernando Palacios sued Hyundai Motor America, claiming sunroofs explode in the Veloster 2012 and 2013 models.

Hyundai claimed at first that there was no problem with the $17,600 car but now offers to replace damaged vehicles with an identical part, and "act as if the problem had been solved," according to the complaint.

"Hyundai's only purported 'solution' to the problem is to replace the exploded sunroof with an identical one. Hyundai offers customers no assurance that the sunroof will not explode again, leaving customers and their passengers potentially in danger every time they drive," the complaint states.

"Hyundai knows of the exploding sunroof defect and knows that consumers are not aware of the risk that their sunroofs could explode without warning," it states. "Nevertheless, Hyundai refused to acknowledge that there was any problem for over a year and has recently issued only a partial recall limited to 2012 Veloster vehicles manufactured from November 1, 2011 through April 17, 2012. Hyundai has still not informed current owners and lessees of other class vehicles about the exploding sunroof defect, has not disclosed the exploding sunroof defect to purchasers and lessors of 2013 model class vehicles, and continues to market and promote the 2013 model class vehicles as safe."

The Palacios, of McAllen, Texas, say Hyundai has sold thousands of the vehicles, whose sunroofs come as a $2,000 "premium option."

They dispute the boast that Hyundai makes on its website: "'We loaded Veloster with safety inside and out."

In fact, "The class vehicles present a safety hazard and are unreasonably dangerous to consumers," the complaint states. "The exploding sunroof defect can cause glass to fly throughout the car at high speed and without warning, putting passengers at risk of physical injury. The explosion and flying glass can also injure or startle the driver, thereby contributing to car accidents, which can cause personal injury or death."

The family claims that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received "numerous" complaints about the car. "One woman explained: 'All of the sudden there was a loud bang like a gunshot, and I heard something raining down on my car. ... I looked in the mirror and saw glass flying everywhere. ... The glass was in my hair, down the back of my shirt and my pants,'" the complaint states, apparently quoting a complaint to the NHTSA. (Ellipses in complaint.)

Plaintiffs Sonia and Fernando Palacios say they bought a 2013 Veloster for their mom, Linda Palacios, last year. They say Hyundai never warned them about the defect.

"On or about December 4, 2012, the sunroof exploded while Linda Palacios was parked," the complaint states. "The explosion sent shattered glass all over the car, damaging the seats. The force of the explosion was so great that it bent the metal frame surrounding the sunroof assembly. By fortunate chance, Mrs. Palacios was not in the car when the sunroof exploded."

The family says a Hyundai dealership denied there was a problem with the sunroof, and said that parts might not be covered by the warranty.

"Later, the dealership offered to replace the sunroof but only with an identical part, presumably containing the identical dangerous defect. The dealership could give Mrs. Palacios no assurance that the sunroof would not explode again. The dealership did not offer to repair the seats damaged by the exploding glass," the complaint states.

The Palacios seek class damages for consumer law violations, unfair business practices, breach of implied warranty, breach of warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and breach of express warranty.

They are by Michael Caddell with Caddell and Chapman, of Houston.

Hyundai did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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