KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City mother shot in the chest while yelling at thieves who were trying to steal her Hyundai is blaming the automaker.
“I looked back at my son and my husband. This is it. This is the last time I’m going to see them,” Gabrielle Lawton said.
In video, seen only on FOX4, the moments right after that bullet landed in her lung.
Lawton said if the company had cared enough to have fixed the problem, she wouldn’t have nearly died.
“I mean it was scary. It was scary and it was unreal,” Lawton said.
This all happened April 29 of this year. Lawton woke up around 3:30 a.m. to fix her baby boy a bottle. When she got downstairs she heard a noise and saw a man with a ski mask in her driveway.
“I open my window and I tell them to get away from my car. He walks back to his car,” she said.
That’s when the criminal starts shooting at Lawton.
“I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot. I just remember I kept saying that I’ve been shot,” she said.
Five months later, the bullet is still in Lawton’s chest and the bullet holes are still on the vinyl around her windows.
Now she and her attorney Bobby Thompson filed a lawsuit against Hyundai, saying that if the company’s cars were not prone to being stolen because of a defect, Lawton wouldn’t have almost died.
Hyundai did not respond directly to our questions about this lawsuit but did send FOX4 a statement outlining the many changes the company has made to its newer cars, plus steps it has taken to offer consumers options to protect older model Hyundai cars.
In part, they said “Hyundai Motor America is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products.”
“Instead of recalling the cars and installing the engine ignition mobilizer, they’re just throwing a band aid on the problem,” Thompson said.
“I remember thinking that I’m going to miss out on his moments and him growing up without a mom. I can’t even imagine that,” Lawton said about her son.
Thankfully she doesn’t and for his first birthday next month, Lawton is taking 1-year-old KJ to the zoo and the new aquarium.
Lawton is far from the only one to sue Hyundai. Kansas City filed similar claims in federal court against Hyundai and Kia in June.
That lawsuit claimed the thefts of those cars are related to increase in reckless driving and violence.
Lawyers for the city say the thefts take away from emergency resources that are already strained at best.
Major cities like Seattle and New York are also suing. Kia says these kinds of lawsuits by cities do not have merit.
Kansas City police tell FOX4 thieves have stolen more than 11,700 cars. Those are the numbers they have through July with 45% of those stolen cars being Kias or Hyundais.
The full statement sent to FOX4 from Hyundai Motor America can be seen below:
“Hyundai Motor America is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products. A subset of Hyundai vehicles on the road in the U.S. today – primarily “base trim” or entry-level models – are not equipped with push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices. It is important to clarify that an engine immobilizer is an anti-theft device and these vehicles are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements. Thieves discovered a specific method by which to bypass the vehicles’ security features and then documented and promoted their exploits on TikTok and other social media channels.”
“In response, Hyundai has taken comprehensive action to assist our customers, including: (1) Made engine immobilizers standard on all vehicles produced as of November 2021; (2) Developed a software upgrade to equip these vehicles with an “ignition kill” feature designed to prevent the popularized method of theft; (3) Rolled out the free anti-theft software upgrade to all of the nearly 4 million vehicles involved – two months ahead of the original schedule – through a service campaign to affected customers who own or lease model year 2011-2022 vehicles; (4) Launched a dedicated website HyundaiAntiTheft.com, toll-free number (888) 498-0390 and digital advertising to generate awareness of the software upgrade, help customers determine their eligibility, and schedule an appointment at their local Hyundai dealership; (5) Initiated a program to reimburse affected customers for their purchase of steering wheel locks, including for a smaller group of 2011-2022 model year vehicles that cannot accommodate the software upgrade; (6) Established a program to provide free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies across the country for distribution to local residents who own or lease the affected vehicles; (7) Collaborated with AAA insurers on a program to offer insurance options for affected owners and lessees. As part of this collaboration, AAA insurers will issue new and renewal policies for eligible affected Hyundai customers. The program will be available in all states with the exception of those states where AAA does not offer insurance. (e.g., Alaska, , Massachusetts, Washington); (8) Recently piloted mobile service centers in Washington, D.C. (Link), St. Louis County, MO (Link) and plans to replicate in additional markets through year-end to further scale and speed installation of the software upgrade.”
“Hyundai is committed to continuing our efforts in completing the software upgrade for all affected vehicles in the most effective manner possible. We are communicating with NHTSA on our many actions to assist our customers.”