Honda and Takata sued by woman claiming airbag paralyzed her

A Florida woman has sued Honda and Takata, saying she was paralyzed by an overpowered replacement airbag in her Honda Civic.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday on behalf of 76-year-old Patricia Mincey, seeks millions of dollars in damages and alleges that Honda and Takata concealed potentially dangerous defects in Takata airbag systems for more than a decade.

"We want to make sure this kind of conduct -- of hiding information and defects -- never happens again," said Mincey’s lawyer, Ted Leopold, who filed the lawsuit in Duval County, Florida.

-----------

FOR THE RECORD

Jan. 22, 7:00 a.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the plaintiff's first name was Pamela. Her name is Patricia.

-----------

On June 15, Mincey ran a red light going about 20 mph in her 2001 Honda Civic. She collided with an SUV, which then overturned, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office accident report.

The airbag in Mincey’s Civic inflated too forcefully, the suit alleges, paralyzing her from the neck down. The defective airbags were made by Takata, and had been installed in Mincey’s car in 2009 as part of an initial recall of the airbags, Leopold said.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages to cover medical care, mental anguish, pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages against Honda and Takata.

Honda said it inspected the airbag after the crash last year and found "no indication of any defect."

"Honda’s ongoing investigation into this crash thus far has uncovered no facts or substantiating evidence in the police investigation to support the defect allegations made by the plaintiff," the company said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined Honda $70 million -- the most allowed by law -- for failing to report deaths and injuries in a timely matter. The fines were tied to 1,729 cases, some of which regulators believe were related to faulty Takata airbags.

Approximately 6 million Honda vehicles in the U.S. have been affected by Takata airbags, and about 2.8 million have officially been recalled. The issue is largely linked to the inflators in the airbags, which can explode and send shrapnel flying into the car’s interior.

Though Honda is Takata’s biggest customer, airbag flaws haven’t been limited to that automaker. Roughly 11 million vehicles in the U.S. have been affected, including models from Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford, and BMW.

Wednesday’s lawsuit isn’t the first against Honda or Takata for failing to take action in a timely manner. A complaint filed in October sought class-action status and the collection of economic damage for affected consumers.

That suit was filed by the same firm that successfully negotiated one of the largest class-action settlements against any automaker with a $1.6-billion settlement against Toyota.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
72°