Government demands answers over airbag recall as class action starts.
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.