Exploding Airbag Suit: Motley Rice files first personal injury federal action in South Carolina


South Carolina woman injured by airbag shrapnel in recalled Honda Civic

On Jan. 9, 2015, Motley Rice LLC, one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ firms, filed a products liability action alleging serious, permanent, life scarring and post-crash enhanced personal injuries sustained by South Carolina resident Angelina Sujata related to a recalled Takata airbag. The filing is believed to be the first personal injury federal action in South Carolina involving shrapnel. 

On March 2, 2012, Angelina sustained serious injuries when her 2001 Honda Civic was involved in a rear-end collision in Chapin, S.C. Upon impact, the Takata airbag inflator in her car exploded with alleged excessive force, shooting sharp, metal shrapnel into her chest multiple times. As a result, Angelina was hospitalized and has had to have two surgeries, the most recent of which was to remove shrapnel that was later discovered in her body and was causing chest pain. She now lives with trauma from the crash and permanent scarring in multiple areas of her chest and upper torso.

It wasn’t until one year after her accident that Angelina learned her car was recalled for its airbag system (NHTSA Recall 13V-132). However, reports state that the Defendants knew of the dangerous airbags/article/takata-federal-lawsuit-sc long before. An estimated 8 million vehicles have been recalled in the United States, with Honda vehicles currently comprising the bulk of potentially affected vehicles, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for more. At a Nov. 20, 2014, Senate hearing, Takata executives admitted that the company still uses ammonium nitrate as a propellant in its airbag inflators. This propellant is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, and can break down over time. It is also less expensive than safer alternatives.  

“Airbags should be expected to work safely. They shouldn’t kill people or shoot out metal,” said Angelina. “I was so upset when I learned about the recall on my car for the airbag, more than a year after I was injured by it. It’s time to push back, and I don’t want another person to go through what I have. The way Takata and Honda have handled the recalls is totally unacceptable.” 

The suit claims that the injuries sustained by Angelina would not have occurred under a normal, safe and expected airbag deployment in the collision, and that the defects in the vehicle consequentially caused serious injuries sustained in the crash. The suit also claims that Sujata’s driver’s frontal airbag system was unreasonably dangerous and defective because it was designed, manufactured and sold with an excessively energetic inflator in the driver’s frontal airbag system which deployed with dangerously excessive explosive force and expelled shrapnel during air bag deployment in foreseeable collisions, including Angelina’s 2012 crash, which made the vehicle unfit for its ordinary purpose of providing safe transportation. 

“While Angelina’s injuries were not fatal, she has suffered extreme trauma and now has permanent scarring, as well as unexpected medical bills and other expenses, which serve as a constant reminder of her crash and the shrapnel that shot out of her airbag. As a result, she has spent two years trying to regain normalcy and learning to deal with her injuries,” said Kevin Dean, Motley Rice catastrophic personal injury attorney. “Unfortunately, we’ve once again found ourselves in a situation where a corporation seems to have chosen profits over people.” 

General negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct and breach of warranty are the claims against the defendants Takata Corporation; TK Holdings, Inc.; Takata, Inc.; Highland Industries, Inc.; Honda Motor Co., Ltd.; Honda R & D Co. Ltd.; and American Honda Motor Co. and Honda of America MFG, Inc. regarding Takata’s airbags. The complaint also alleges that design and testing all the way through distribution and sale, resulted in a defective and unreasonably dangerous automobile and automobile airbag system that was unable to reasonably protect the driver in the case of an accident. 

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division, the case is Angelina C. Sujata vs. Takata Corporation et al. Read the full complaint.

In November 2014, Motley Rice attorneys filed the first federal action on behalf of a South Carolina woman allegedly killed by the Takata airbag in her recalled Honda Accord. Read more about this action. Motley Rice attorneys also filed a class action lawsuit in South Carolina, Horton et al v Takata et al., on Nov. 14, 2014, and similar class action lawsuits in Louisiana and Florida, on behalf of people who own vehicles that contain the recalled Takata airbags. Read more about this action.

Learn more about Takata airbag lawsuits.