Articles Posted in Defective Products

A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges that vehicle manufacturer Tesla’s Model S and Model X are prone to unintentional, sudden acceleration. Several owners detail instances wherein their electric vehicles without warning barreled straight into a garage or wall, either as a result of human or computer error. More than two dozen cases of these unintended acceleration incidents are on file with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).drive

The lawsuit claims thousands of these vehicles have the potential to suddenly careen out-of-control.

Now, as the ABA Journal reports, the auto maker that specializes in high-end, fully-electric vehicles disputes the notion that it has a duty to consumers to design a vehicle that is fail-safe. The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Central California. It cited 26 reported incidents of sudden acceleration, 22 of which resulted in a crash. One of those crashes was accompanied with photographs in which a plaintiff reportedly was parking his vehicle in the garage and the vehicle allegedly propelled suddenly into the back wall of the garage. The wall collapsed partially into his living room. No one was home at the time, so the primary damage was to property. Continue reading

For the last decade, millions of Americans have been driving vehicles manufactured with defective airbags, produced by Japan-based firm Takata. Recently, the defective auto parts manufacturer entered a guilty plea in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a federal investigation into the matter. That plea deal was accompanied by a promise to pay $1 billion in fines for deliberately failing to disclose the possible airbag defects. Only a fraction of that money will go to victims.driving sleepy

But that hasn’t resolved all of the issues. The latest civil lawsuit alleges five auto manufacturers knew that Takata airbags were defective and had the potential to injure and possibly kill motorists – but chose to continue buying and selling them. Why? Because they were cheaper.

The complaint alleges Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and BMW knew about these problems for more than a decade but didn’t issue a recall or even bother to seek another supplier. Takata not only produced cheaper airbags but also was able to meet the bulk demands that many other companies could not. But of course, the other companies were presumably ensuring their products met the high standards necessary for use in automobiles sold to the public, while Takata clearly was not.

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A lawsuit alleging wrongful death and personal injury caused by a defective vehicle will be allowed to proceed, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Jackson v. Ford Motor Co.driving

The plaintiff’s husband was killed in 2012 – and the plaintiff was seriously injured – when her husband lost control of his vehicle while the pair were traveling on U.S. Highway 70 in Tennessee. The plaintiff alleges the manufacturer of the car was liable for the auto accident because it had equipped the vehicle with a defective electronic power assisted steering (EPAS) system that resulted in a loss of control. Although the district court granted summary judgment to the defendant manufacturer on the ground that the plaintiff failed to adequately plead the proximate cause of the crash, the Seventh Circuit reversed, meaning the case can go forward.

This case is not the first product liability lawsuit Ford has faced over its power steering system. A federal class action lawsuit was filed in California in 2014, alleging certain model years of Ford Focus and Ford Fusion vehicles had defective EPAS systems – something about which the company knew but that it declined to correct or even acknowledge. The automaker filed a number of motions to dismiss, but so far the case is still moving ahead. The company did end up recalling some of those models after the lawsuit was filed. The loss of power steering, as noted in both of these actions, can create a dangerous condition for drivers.

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A new investigative report by Circa, a news service for mobile devices, details how the U.S. General Services Administration is apparently auctioning off vehicles to the general public, despite the fact that these vehicles still have open recalls.Car Crash

Vehicle recall response rates are already low. A federal law passed this summer (after years of legislative wrangling) requires rental car companies to repair any recalled vehicle before it is rented out. However, it remains legal for used car companies to sell vehicles that are under recall.

Still, one might expect the federal government to be held to a higher standard when it comes to distributing potentially dangerous products to the public. That’s what makes the new report on the GSA so troubling.

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Toyota and other car makers have come under fire in recent years for flawed design, defective manufacturing and negligent recall procedures that put millions on the road at risk. drive7

However, as a recent case out of Connecticut revealed, liability is not always clear-cut and those pursuing litigation against an auto manufacturer for product liability leading to a traffic accident can be an uphill battle.

The case of Foster v. Foster v. Toyota Motor Sales, and it pits wife against husband who in turn seeks accountability from the auto manufacturer. Of course, we should be clear here that in cases like this, where spouses, relatives or friends pursue action against one another, the goal is generally not to collect from that individual but rather from the auto insurance company. This situation was complicated by the fact that a third-party – the auto manufacturer – was involved.

And let’s also preface this by saying that this unintended acceleration issue with Toyota is by no means isolated. In fact, the car manufacturer in 2014 agreed to pay $1.2 billion for hiding the deadly unintended acceleration issue from 4.2 million consumers. That settlement was reached in a deferred prosecution agreement in which the company admitted it mislead consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements regarding the two safety issues. As the FBI assistant director said at the time, the company “put sales over  safety and profit over principle.”  Continue reading

A jury in Texas has awarded $124 million in damages to the family of a young boy who was severely and permanently injured when their Audi was rear-ended and the driver’s seat collapsed backward. The head of the driver, the boy’s father, struck the boy, causing permanent brain damage, partial paralysis and blindness. carinterior

Jurors determined the German automaker was 55 percent liable for the boy’s injuries, while the driver who rear-ended the family was 25 percent responsible. The boy’s father was deemed 20 percent liable. That means Audi will have to pay 55 percent of the total damages.

The amount figured in $32.5 million for future physical pain and mental anguish, as well as $65 million for future physical impairment.  Continue reading

Citing his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination, an engineer for Takata Corp. is refusing to testify in a defective airbag lawsuit filed by a woman rendered paralyzed in a 2014 crash. drive7

Accident victims say the airbag manufacturing company, based in Japan, withheld or altered test results both prior to and after the company’s airbag inflators started exploding, firing shrapnel into drivers and passengers when they deployed during crashes.

In preparation for trial, plaintiff attorneys sought testimony during the deposition phase from a man named Al Bernat. He’s an auto safety specialist at the firm, and he’s considered a key witness on a number of those aforementioned tests. However, he says his lips are zipped, citing his constitutional right not to be forced to testify to facts that might result in a criminal prosecution against him.  Continue reading

We often use the term “car accident” when it is really not an “accident.” The term “accident” implies that it was nobody’s fault. In reality, most car accidents could have been avoided if the at-fault driver had been a little more careful.

This lack of care that results in a car accident translates into negligence – negligence, which is actionable in a civil car accident lawsuit.

951743_slow_down.jpgOne the other hand, if a driver does everything correctly and a vehicle defect causes a crash resulting in personal injury, it may not be the driver who is liable, but rather the car company or an automotive service center that is responsible.

One recent article from WBTV News looks at an accident in Charlotte that may have been caused by a brake failure.

One witness says he was driving along when he saw a car that was completely vertical with the front bumper pointing towards the sky. He recalls thinking that is something he had never seen before and was left speechless.
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American auto manufacturer General Motors (GM) knew for years that its vehicles were deadly. Officials were aware that the ignition could suddenly disengage mid-ride, causing the power to cut to the engine, resulting in system failure of airbags and power steering. They knew people were dying and being seriously injured, and they also knew that all they needed to fix this problem was a $2 repair. carkeys1.jpg

But for years, they kept it quiet. They concealed it. When lawsuits were filed, they quietly settled them out-of-court in confidential agreements, hoping to limit public knowledge of the issue. In all, at least 124 people died as a result of the defect. One was convicted of a felony after she was faulted for a crash later attributed to the defect. Others have been maimed forever.

It wasn’t until a new CEO took over that the issue was pushed into the daylight. Recalls were issued. More lawsuits were filed. The CEO apologized to the public, to the families. She fired a number of those connected with the alleged cover-up. She set aside a fund to pay further settlements to victims.
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Many injuries stemming from the use of motor vehicles are the result of some human error behind the wheel.
However in a growing number of cases, we are seeing product defects play a role too. From faulty airbags to sticky gas pedals to malfunctioning seat belts – there are many elements of a vehicle that must be in proper working order in order to prevent accidents and also minimize injuries in the event one does happen.

This is something an injury lawyer cannot overlook when analyzing what went wrong in an accident.

A recent class action lawsuit filed by a group of individuals who allege a vehicle defect with keyless ignition systems has resulted in 13 deaths and numerous other near-misses. However, unlike most product liability cases against motor vehicle companies, this issues didn’t involve collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects. They did, however, involve operation of the vehicle.
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