Exclusive: Air bag accident, lawsuit led to GM Cruze recall
By Ben Klayman and Jessica Dye
DETROIT/NEW YORK (Reuters) - An accident that left a Georgia woman blind in one eye and a subsequent lawsuit led to General Motors Co's recall of about 33,000 Chevrolet Cruze sedans in North America for potentially defective air bags made by Takata Corp.
The lawsuit by Brandi Owens, filed in late April in federal court in Atlanta against GM and Takata, claims her car and driver-side air bag were "defective and unreasonably dangerous," citing a problem that has dogged Takata for several years - air bag inflators that explode with too much force. More than 10.5 million vehicles with Takata air bags have been recalled globally.
Owens, 25 at the time of the October 2013 accident, is seeking unspecified damages.
Owens' attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit. Takata's U.S. spokesman did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
In documents filed on Thursday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM said it had learned of a lawsuit on May 1 regarding a Chevrolet Cruze with an improperly deployed air bag. GM inspected the vehicle four days later and briefed officials at the U.S. safety agency in late May and twice in early June.
GM did not identify the lawsuit in its filing, but a source familiar with the matter said it was the Owens case.
NHTSA said it was aware of GM's recall to replace driver-side air bags in order to correct Takata inflators made with an incorrect part, "which can result in the inflator rupturing during deployment and can lead to metal fragments striking occupants and no inflation of the air bag."
Takata faces a growing number of recalls to fix air bags deemed at risk of exploding and shooting shrapnel at drivers and passengers. Continued...