Takata Corp. and Honda Motor Co. were sued by a driver seeking damages on behalf of the owners of 5 million Honda and Acura models recalled so far in the U.S. to replace potentially unsafe airbags.
The complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles was brought by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which was one of the lead plaintiff firms that helped secure a class-action settlement valued at $1.63 billion against Toyota Motor Corp. for U.S. consumers over economic losses tied to sudden, unintended acceleration.
Air bags made by Tokyo-based Takata are linked to at least four deaths and more than 30 injuries in the U.S. after the safety devices deployed with too much force, spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. Honda alone has recalled 6 million vehicles globally since 2008 because of the Takata airbag flaw.
“In 2004, a Takata airbag violently exploded in a Honda Accord, shooting out metal fragments and injuring the car’s driver,” according to the complaint. “At a loss to explain the incident, Honda and Takata deemed it ‘an anomaly’ and did not issue a recall or seek the involvement of federal safety regulators.”
The lead plaintiff in the proposed class action is a resident of Mililani, Hawaii, who drives a 2004 Honda CRV, which was recalled this month. His dealer told him it would take seven to 10 days to receive the parts after they were ordered and couldn’t say when they would be ordered, according to the complaint.
As of last week, about 7.8 million people in the U.S. were being notified about the defect, with General Motors Co. joining Toyota in warning people not to sit in front passenger seats until repairs can be made. The recalls affect at least 10 carmakers in the U.S.
A proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of drivers of Honda, Toyota, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and other brands was filed Oct. 27 in Florida.
Chris Martin, a spokesman for American Honda Motor Co., had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Alby Berman, a spokesman for Takata’s U.S. unit in Auburn Hills, Michigan, didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours to an e-mail seeking comment.
Honda has acknowledged two deaths related to the Takata airbag defect and is investigating two more. Its recalls of more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S. the last two years span 11 models, including top sellers such as the Accord sedan, Civic compact car and CR-V sport utility vehicle. The model years vary by vehicle and start as early as 2001 to as recent as 2011.
The case is Archer v. Takata Corp., 14-cv-08447, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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