Seventh Car Manufacturer Hit With Class Action Over Airbags

A Sydney legal firm has added a seventh vehicle manufacturer to its class action claiming cars with deadly airbags were sold to consumers.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan (Quinn Emanuel) last month filed class action proceedings against Volkswagen, while actions have already been commenced against Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Subaru, BMW and Nissan. These proceedings are being heard concurrently in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Quinn Emanuel is expecting to file against Ford and Audi shortly, covering an estimated 2.5 million Australian drivers it says are driving cars fitted with defective airbags. The company says the airbags have been linked to the deaths of at least 24 people worldwide, including one in Sydney last year, as well as injuring hundreds of others.

Quinn Emanuel Partner, Damian Scattini, described the airbags as “ticking time bombs”.

“Over time they degrade,” said Scattini. “As they degrade they become unsafe. On our case, these manufacturers knew these airbags were dangerous, but kept using them in their vehicles, putting profits before the safety of their customers. Car manufacturers have known about this problem for years. These airbags need to be off the road.”

The legal firm is urging consumers to check if their vehicle is subject to recall and to act immediately if a replacement airbag is available. However, Quinn Emanuel says that due to a global shortage of airbags, many Australian drivers are only being offered a temporary fix, with a like for like replacement, meaning that their airbag will have to be replaced again in the future.

The company claims that in many cases, the replacement airbags contain the same propellant used in the defective airbags, ammonium nitrate, which deteriorates over time. However, consumers are still encouraged to obtain a temporary fix, as a newer defective airbag is preferable to an older defective airbag.

“It’s about responsibility and accountability. Car manufacturers need to make good the harm they’ve done to their customers. No more, no less,” said Scattini.

Quinn Emanuel says consumers whose vehicle were, or are, subject to the Takata airbag recall may be entitled to participate in their class action proceedings. Vehicle owners are not excluded from participating if they have had faulty airbags replaced.