GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The family of a man who died in a 2010 auto accident filed a federal lawsuit against Hyundai, claiming the recalled vehicle caused him to lose control.
Hyundai notified Elantra owners of the recall in March 2010.
On March 18, 2010, Brian Laetz was driving a 2002 Hyundai Elantra from Jackson to Kalamazoo. His car skidded across I-69, crossed the median and hit an oncoming semi-truck. He died at the scene.
The day before he died, Laetz made an appointment with a Hyundai dealership to repair the issue in the recall: that Elantras built between 2001-03 and sold in Rust Belt states may have corroded and thinning lower control arm could perforate and "increase the risk of vehicle crash without warning."
His appointment was for March 19.
"I think that's awful," said Laetz' high school friend Abby Sutter. "I would be very angry if I was his fiancee, his Mom, his family. He tried to get it in immediately. He asked the question, 'Is it safe to drive?' He tried to make sure that he was covering himself."
In the lawsuit, filed by his mother Cynthia Laetz, it's stated he spoke with a Hyundai representative about his trip to Jackson and was told he would be safe.
The lawsuit also states the defective lower control arm was the cause of the crash that killed him.
Cheryl Bush, trial counsel for Hyundai released a statement on behalf of the car company on Wednesday:
"Before the lawsuit was filed, Hyundai completed a full day of inspections of the car. The plaintiffs were gracious enough to allow us to inspect the vehicle. We had an accident reconstructionist there and an expert metallurgist at the time of the inspection. We are confident nothing about the lower control arm caused the accident. It's a tragedy this young man died in this car accident but Hyundai will strongly defend itself in this lawsuit."
Hyundai has not yet filed its response to the lawsuit - initially filed in Calhoun County -- but claims in court documents they're not liable for his death.
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