Defective Kaba Simplex Locks Used to Secure Federal Buildings

We’ve been following the issue of <"">Kaba Simplex keyless pushbutton locks lawsuits involving a lock commonly used to secure sensitive government buildings that can be easily unlocked with a $30 magnet. According to, the lock has also been used on a number of homes owned by Orthodox Jews nationwide.

The Kaba Simplex keyless locks retail for at least $300 and are used by countless businesses, apartment buildings, hotels, motels, college dorms, and public bathrooms. A PIN number chosen by the lock’s owner is used, rather than a key, magnetic card, or other means. Kaba Ilco claims this system is more secure than other access controls and that the locks are ideal for locations with regular personnel turnover, like data processing centers, employee entrances, research labs, apartment complexes, and dorms. But, lawsuits against Kaba Ilco claim this technology is not anywhere near as secure as represented by their marketing materials.

Plaintiffs in a number of Kaba Simplex Keyless locks lawsuits claim the PIN code technology employed by the locks can be easily overridden with nothing more than a rare-earth magnet. By placing a magnet small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand on the front of a Kaba keyless lock, an intruder access the premises in seconds. The Kaba Simplex keyless pushbutton locks lawsuits contend that the defective locks must be replaced.

According to a recent Forbes Magazine report, the Simplex locks were designed using a critical component called the combination chamber that has been discovered to be sensitive to a strong magnetic field. Kaba reported that it only learned of this security vulnerability in August 2010 and further claims that rare-earth magnets were not “commercially feasible” when the locks were designed, constituting a state-of-the-art attack for which it should not be liable. As the Forbes article pointed out, many lock manufacturers and security experts have been aware of the availability of strong magnets capable of opening some locking mechanisms. Despite this widespread awareness, Kaba continued to use this design for years in their locks

Meanwhile, Kaba Simplex Locks lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL 2220) and transferred to U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio and. Eight Kaba Simplex locks lawsuits have been filed in four federal jurisdictions: New Jersey (1), Eastern District of New York (1), Southern District of New York (1), and Northern District of Ohio (5).

The plaintiffs created a video showing that the defective locks are broadly used in places such as buildings, retail stores, and even some U.S. Customs and Border Patrol locations, New York City jails, throughout the Cleveland Hopkins Airport, and the Cleveland federal courthouse, to name just some, said

Some lead plaintiffs in the Kaba Simplex locks litigation are Orthodox Jews who use the keyless locks on their homes so that they can remain in compliance with Jewish Sabbath restrictions that prevent followers from carrying anything, even keys, during the Sabbath which takes place from sundown Friday to Saturday evening, pointed out “I mean this is a really popular solution for Orthodox Jews,” said Yeshai Michael Kutoff, a Talmudic, quoted “It’s a little unsettling,” Kutoff said, “that a big company … is peddling a lock that’s not really worth much.”

Kaba acknowledged in a court filing that an upgrade had been developed in September to resolve the issue and is now in use; however, plaintiff attorneys argue that this does not protect those millions of “vulnerable” locks in use, said

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