Class action demands full refunds from car manufacturers

Government demands answers over airbag recall as class action starts.

Airbag crisis – are you due a refund?

The Federal Government is demanding urgent answers from car makers about the recall of vehicles with potentially faulty Takata airbags as a class action begins against car manufacturers.

Law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan has announced it will be filing an open class action in Australia against car manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, and Mazda for their role in the defective Takata airbag scandal, seeking full refunds on purchased vehicles.

Regulators are investigating the death of a Sydney man this month, which involved a Honda CRV fitted with Takata airbags. It may be the 18th death linked to faulty airbags made by the Japanese company, and the first such death in Australia.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher has written to all potentially affected car makers seeking a comprehensive status update on the recall.

The automobile manufacturers involved – BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Ferrari, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Performax, Subaru and Toyota – are conducting voluntary recall programs, which have been under way since 2009, when the flaws became known.

The Government has the power to impose mandatory recalls if necessary. This power sits with Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack who has responsibility for consumer protection, and he can exercise this power on the advice of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Law firm partner Damian Scattini said the class action will be filed in the Federal Court of Australia and allege that the car manufacturers have breached Australian consumer law.

“It is quite frankly, outrageous and almost inconceivable that there are over one million cars on Australian roads that contain a ‘safety’ product that could, at any time, explode with lethal force. People who are driving these cars need to enforce their consumer rights before there are any more tragedies,” Mr Scattini said.

He said he encouraged regulators to use powers to keep consumers safe, and that this lawsuit is complementary to any action regulators may take.

“Under Australian consumer law, goods specifically need to be safe. It is hard to imagine something which is less safe. These airbags have killed at least 18 people and injured more than 180 worldwide,” Mr Scattini said.

A report by consumer group CHOICE has also discovered that some of the faulty airbags are just being replaced with faulty versions.

Brisbane-based administrative assistant Tamika Moulton, 29, is the owner of a 2007 Toyota Yaris and a potential plaintiff.

After having an airbag replaced, Ms Moulton asked the company to confirm in writing that the replacement airbag did not suffer from the same defects as the original. The company has not responded.

“I am extremely concerned about this. The faulty airbags are alarming enough on their own, but to replace them with equally faulty ones is reprehensible. I need to know my car is safe to drive and what Toyota is going to do about it if it’s not,” she said.

To find out if a recall has been issued for your car, check the full list here, if your car is on the list you may be entitled to participate in the class action. You can register your interest at airbagrecall.com.au.

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    COMMENTS

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    KSS
    26th Jul 2017
    12:35pm
    Without denying there is a problem to be fixed and fixed quickly there are a couple of issues with the above article:

    According to reports this morning, The Sydney man who died was sent 5 notifications about the airbag and did not take his car to be fixed. Time to fix the airbag - about 1 hour! There must be a point where the car owner must assume some responsibility for complying with recall notifications or are we now expecting car manufacturers to go and repossess the defective car?

    The QLD woman quoted; Tamika Moulton; (why her age is important who knows?) has had her car for 10 years without issue. She has now had it fixed - albeit with the same airbag (an issue in itself of course). The real point here is she is one example of someone with a 10 year old car that she has driven without adverse event and there are demands for full refunds of all cars affected by the airbag issue. Full refund? Why? Free fix - absolutely but full refund???????
    MICK
    26th Jul 2017
    5:06pm
    Thanks for that KSS. Your clarification is of course never reported by the media trying to invent "fake news".
    The real issue with the problematic airbags is the sheer numbers of vehicles affected. It will likely take years to make the quantity of replacement airbags needed.
    I guess the message to all of us is DRIVE CAREFULLY. From what I have seen from Australian drivers over the past 10 years that is unlikely. Being in the position of driving overseas what I have seen id the difference. It is significant and a lot of Australian drivers should not hold a license. Even 1 hour ago I saw a kid on P plates turning without signalling. What will he be doing in 20 years time. Can I have more airbags please.
    Couldabeen
    27th Jul 2017
    6:07pm
    I doubt that Ms Moulton had her airbag replaced with the same airbag. It would've been a new build unit with a more recent date of manufacture. Takata have reason to believe that they know what production runs had a higher possibility of failure and steps were taken to ensure greater integrity with subsequent production.
    Note that of several thousand airbags deployments every day, the rate of dangerous deployments causing injury appears to have been less than one or two percent.

    26th Jul 2017
    10:28pm
    Lots of airbags in cars these days and that includes some drivers
    PlanB
    27th Jul 2017
    3:00pm
    If they can not fix the problem pronto and do it right -- then take the blasted bags OUT - we drove around with out them for many many decades -- whats the point of having these in at all if they are likely to kill you
    Inigo
    4th May 2018
    2:52pm
    Obviously if the airbags are faulty and that seems to be the case in some situations, then the supplier has a liability. The incidences of serious injury are relatively rare however. The manufacturers and suppliers seem to be urgently addressing the issue. Mounting a class action will now only delay things by dragging it through the courts and the defendants will incur huge legal costs to defend the action this mean that there will be potentially less money available to actually address the real issue.
    The class action lawyers are not actually helping their clients, once again they are only seeking to make profits for themselves keeping in mind that they rake off 30% to 40% of the settlement. The are dishonestly seeking to cause fear amongst consumers and profit from it. My advice would be to stay away from these highly publicised and media driven class actions.