File photo: Yuya Shino.
File photo: Yuya Shino.

Takata, Honda sued over airbag death

By Jessica Dye Time of article published Nov 18, 2014

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New York - Takata and Honda have been hit with a lawsuit over an airbag that’s linked to the death of a woman in Florida last month.

This is the latest legal issue for the two companies as they continue to recall millions of vehicles for the faulty safety component.

The family of Hien Tran filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in state court in Orange County, Florida, according to the family's lawyer, Henry Didier. Tran died on October 2, three days after her 2001 Honda Accord hit another car and the airbag exploded, the suit said.

A medical examiner in Florida told Reuters that Tran had “stab-type wounds” from airbag shrapnel that contributed to her death, which was originally investigated as a homicide due to the nature of her wounds.

“A Honda spokesman said the company had not seen the suit and could not yet comment. He said Honda encouraged owners of recalled cars to get their vehicles fixed.” A Takata spokesman declined to comment.

Takata airbags are the target of a US safety investigation that started earlier this year over the risk that they could explode during an accident, spraying metal shards. More than 16 million vehicles made by nearly a dozen different carmakers have been recalled globally over the problematic parts since 2008.

Tran's death is the most recent of four in the US known to be linked to Takata airbags in Honda vehicles. Three of those deaths, including Tran's, were in Honda Accords, the lawsuit said. Honda has also identified a fifth airbag-related fatality in Malaysia.


The lawsuit accused Honda of failing to adequately warn car owners about the potential dangers, even after it had issued recalls and received reports about airbag-related injuries and deaths. Between 2009 and 2014, at least eight serious injuries were linked to the airbags, the suit said.

The lawsuit cited a September 22 message from Honda to its dealer network telling them not to “proactively contact customers at this time” about the issue because there were not enough replacement parts. That message went out a week before Tran's accident, the lawsuit said.

“She didn't know about it, because she never got a recall notification until after she was dead,” Didier told Reuters.

In addition to several personal-injury and wrongful-death suits, Takata, Honda and other carmakers affected by the recalls face more than 15 proposed class actions from customers who say the safety issues caused their vehicles' value to plummet.


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