Man Dies from Faulty Keyless Ignition System

An Ohio man, Ross Emery, died in his sleep in early September from carbon monoxide poisoning that seeped into his house from the car in his garage. Emery’s 2015 Toyota Avalon, like many cars across the country, includes a keyless ignition system. Unlike a traditional metal car key, cars with a keyless ignition system use a remote fob that is detected by the “start-stop” button in the ignition system. Then, all you have to do is get in the car with the fob in your pocket or in your purse and press the “start-stop” button to start the engine. You press it again later to turn off the engine, once you have reached your destination.

In early September, Emery returned home, as he always did, parked the car in his garage, placed his key fob on the counter, and sat down for dinner. But like dozens of people across the country who have died the same way, Emery forgot to push the button to turn off the engine. Because of how smooth and quite engines operate these days, many drivers like Emery have become more forgetful about turning their vehicle’s engine off with the “start-stop” button.

Many cars with keyless ignition systems include a well-known and proven safety feature that detects a buildup of carbon monoxide and automatically turns itself off. Many cars also include ignition-on warnings, such as warning tones and warning messages on the LCD displays in the car, that can be implemented through the car’s software. Emery’s 2015 Avalon did not include those features. Emery’s car ran non-stop throughout that night, filling his home with colorless and odorless carbon monoxide, depriving his brain and heart of oxygen.

A keyless ignition system (or any product) is defective when a safer alternative design for the product exists (e.g., automatic shutoff or ignition-on warnings), the design is financially and technology feasible, and the design does not materially affect the product’s utility. The attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner have been fighting for the rights of individuals injured by defective products for decades. If you or someone you know has been injured by a defect related to a car’s keyless ignition system or a defect in any other product, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.