Orlando, FL – (June 2, 2015) – The Didier Law Firm filed a civil lawsuit today on behalf of 29-year-old Christian Sprouse who sustained injuries to her neck and eye after the airbag in her 2004 Honda Civic exploded upon deployment in a minor accident on April 21st, 2015. Ms. Sprouse received a recall notice and took her vehicle to the local Honda dealership, but was informed that no replacement parts were available. The accident and airbag deployment happened a week later.
The Takata recall is now the largest recall in U.S. history, covering 34 million vehicles across eleven auto manufacturers. Honda and Takata had knowledge of this defect for a decade, and after much pressure from U.S. officials, Takata finally admitted that its airbags are defective last week.
In written testimony ahead of a U.S. congressional hearing taking place today, Takata executive Kevin Kennedy said Takata will “continue producing air bags that use ammonium nitrate propellant, but will change the design of the driver-side air bag inflators.” Kennedy said Takata is working with automakers “to transition to newer versions of driver inflators in our replacement kits or inflators made by other suppliers that do not contain ammonium nitrate.”
The new lawsuit alleges that Honda could easily identify those at greatest risk of airbag ruptures, and should have taken steps beyond its recall mailer to remedy the situation. For instance, more specific warnings could allow drivers of recalled vehicles to make informed decisions to protect themselves, including, but not limited to, minimizing or stopping use, finding alternative travel arrangements, securing a rental car (whether reimbursed or not), increasing their demands for timely replacement, or, otherwise being empowered with adequate knowledge to act based upon same in an informed manner.
In a press conference last week, NHTSA declared this the “most complex safety recall in U.S. history, and possibly one of largest in ALL of consumer recalls.” Over the past several months, Takata has been uncooperative, forcing NHTSA to impose a $14,000 per day penalty on the company until it better cooperated with documents it had handed over to NHTSA. Those fines have added up to $1 million so far, and have been suspended as of now due to Takata’s newfound cooperation.
NHTSA’s current recommendation to drivers of potentially recalled vehicles is to immediately check the VIN on their recall website, take it to the local dealership for replacement part. Current replacements are “safer” but “not sure they are safe for the long term.” Drivers may have to go back in for a second replacement at a later date. In the case of Ms. Sprouse, she understood and believed she was safe to drive her car based on what she was told after having gone to her local dealership, but, the reality is that she remained at risk pending the removal of the defective airbag inflators from her vehicle.
The Didier Law Firm is a trial firm focused on the litigation of complex auto accident, truck accident and product liability cases. Located in Orlando, the firms represent clients in Florida and throughout the Southeast.