Motley Rice files economic loss suit against ARC, automakers alleging deadly airbag defect in millions of vehicles

Motley Rice filed a proposed class action this week against global parts manufacturer ARC Automotive and multiple automakers. The suit seeks compensation for vehicle owners and lessees for a deadly airbag inflator defect that are believed to be in more than 30 million vehicles across the country. 

Plaintiffs allege they were not warned prior to purchase that their airbags were defective. As a result, they say they’ve suffered significant monetary losses, including the diminished value of their vehicles, loss of use, and out-of-pocket costs. The federal suit, filed in the District of South Carolina, alleges fraudulent concealment, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. 

“It’s frustrating to know that we can’t trust that the automakers are selling safe and reliable vehicles,” said plaintiff Aaron Jophlin. “I had no way of testing the airbag inflator in my GMC to ensure that it was manufactured properly before I bought it, and no information has been sent to me from the manufacturer offering to replace it.”

The suit alleges the friction welding process ARC uses to assemble its hybrid airbag inflators causes excess flash and waste material to form at a specific weld location in the inflators. When the airbags deploy, this flash may break free from the weld and, if large enough, block the port that releases the gas that inflates the airbag cushion. This can be deadly, as it may cause the internal pressure of the inflator to reach a point that exceeds the inflator’s housing strength, causing it to rupture and propel shrapnel-like inflator parts into the vehicle cabin where they can injure or kill drivers and passengers. Defendants in the case have known of an issue with ARC’s hybrid inflators since at least July 2015 given an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), the complaint alleges.

People allegedly harmed by a defective ARC airbag inflator have sustained injuries including blunt force trauma to the upper body and shrapnel lacerations. Some have died from their injuries. The following automakers installed ARC inflators in some of their vehicles and are named in the suit: 

  •  General Motors
  •  Hyundai
  •  Kia 

Click here for a full list of vehicles that may contain the ARC inflator defect. 

“Not only is the consumer not getting what they paid for when they buy or lease a potentially defective vehicle, their safety is also at risk when they get behind the wheel,” said attorney John David O’Neill. “This filing should be a wakeup call for consumers and a demand for the automotive industry to do the right thing by issuing a mass recall of the ARC airbag inflators, replacing them and protecting the lives of their customers.” 

Read the full complaint.

About Motley Rice

Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. 

The firm continues to handle complex litigation in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; medical devices; human rights; aviation disasters; and wrongful death. Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; and West Virginia. For more information, contact Motley Rice attorney Kevin Dean (GA, MS, SC) at 1.800.768.4026 or visit Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky is the attorney responsible for New Jersey practice. 

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