Honda and Takata’s stealth airbag fix – CNBC

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2016

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In many states, plaintiffs alleging design defects are required to prove that companies could have used a safer design, said Rob Ammons, a Houston lawyer who has represented clients suing Honda and Takata in three cases alleging that inflator defects caused death or injury.

“Obviously, this would be significant evidence that one existed, certainly as early as 2009,” said Ammons, who has settled two of the cases and has one pending.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina and an expert in automotive safety and regulation said that Honda could make an argument that “it’s always improving its products — for instance, that air bags are getting safer every year,” he said. “I’m not sure how a jury would approach or examine that.”

The federal cases against Takata, Honda and other automakers have been consolidated in a Miami court. They involve individual claims for injuries and deaths and proposed class actions seeking to represent millions of customers who say their vehicles lost value. Trials in both types of federal cases could start as soon as 2017, according to court filings.

Honda has reached confidential settlements in some personal-injury lawsuits, court records showed.

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