Just four months after receiving the car, Stabler got into an accident, was ejected from the car and later died from her injuries. Stabler's mother sued Kia, Kia Motors America and Celtrion, the Korean maker of the seatbelt, for wrongful death. After five years in trial and two visits to the Alabama Supreme Court, a lower-court jury decided for the plaintiffs and issued a $40-million judgment against Kia.
Whether or not Stabler was wearing her seatbelt was disputed: plaintiff's witnesses said she was, Kia said there was evidence that she wasn't. A lawyer for Celtrion said "the seatbelt system in her vehicle was not defective when put to normal use," even though the 1995-1998 recall was occasioned by inquiries by the U.S. government about the belts. The 1999-2000 cars were recalled in 2004, after the U.S. inquired again as to why they weren't included the first time. Kia has said it will petition the court to set aside the verdict.