Libertyville family sues Volkswagen, Verizon after carjacking
For about 40 minutes back in February, married couple Gregory Kovtelidakis and Taylor Shepherd feared they would never see their 2-year-old son Isaiah again.
That's how long it took for police to find him after two men stole the car the boy was sitting in and ran over Shepherd when she tried to intervene.
The fear and distress they suffered could have been avoided had the companies who had access to the car's location data had handed it over to police when they asked for it rather than making the couple pay $150 for the service, attorneys for the Libertyville couple argued in a 70-page lawsuit filed Tuesday against Volkswagen America and Verizon Connect.
Representatives for either company could not immediately be reached for comment about the lawsuit Tuesday.
But a Volkswagen spokesperson said in February that the company has a procedure for emergency requests, however, there had been a serious breach of the process.
In March, Volkswagen of America announced it would offer its Car-Net Safe & Secure connected vehicle emergency services free for five years.
The couple's attorney, Gerald Bekkerman, said Lake County sheriff's deputies were pleading over the phone with employees to share the information on the Volkswagen's location but were told they couldn't without the $150 annual subscription for the service being renewed.
Bekkerman said the company eventually shared the car's location data after Kovtelidakis met the officers at his home and supplied his credit card information.
"What we're saying is this should never happen," Bekkerman said. "If a police officer is looking for an abducted child, you do not demand ransom of $150 to look up the location of that vehicle."
Isaiah was eventually found in a parking lot on the 2200 block of Lakeside Drive in Waukegan, apparently dropped off by the person who stole the car. After Kovtelidakis' payment went through the family's Volkswagen was recovered around two miles farther down the road.
Officials have not yet apprehended the people responsible for the carjacking.
Bekkerman said while Shepherd's crushed pelvis and other injuries she suffered during the carjacking have healed, she and the family are still dealing with psychological wounds.
Shepherd, who was five-months pregnant at the time of the carjacking, gave birth to a boy named Noah Collin on June 26.
An online fundraiser started on behalf of the family in the days following the carjacking has raised $83,235.