Product Liability

Takata airbag defect claims seventh victim

Honda Takata airbags 375x210 Takata airbag defect claims seventh victimAn airbag made by Japanese supplier Takata caused the death of a Louisiana woman whose 2005 Honda Civic crashed in April, Honda America has confirmed, bringing to seven the number of fatalities linked to Takata’s defective airbags.

Twenty-two-year-old Kylan Rae Langlinais of Lafayette, La., died on Thursday, April 9, 2015, at Lafayette General Medical Center from injuries she received from the Takata airbag, which exploded when her vehicle crashed April 5.

The airbag rupture “resulted in the death of the driver,” Honda said in a statement. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the Langlinais family during this difficult time.”

Ms. Langlinais was the second Takata airbag victim to die because a notification of the defect came too late. In January, Carlos Solis IV, a 35-year-old father of two, was fatally wounded by when the Takata airbag in his 2002 Honda Accord exploded in a relatively minor crash in Texas. Mr. Solis’ car was included in a recall to replace the airbag in June 2014, but neither Honda nor Takata had mailed his notification by the time of his accident.

The deaths of Ms. Langlinais and Mr. Solis demonstrate how lives and families can be destroyed when automakers and suppliers fail to respond properly to serious safety defects they know are there, but are more concerned about potential profit losses than anything else.

Honda said that it mailed Ms. Langlinais the first notification that her vehicle needed airbag replacements on April 2, but the letter did not arrive on time.

“Honda deeply regrets that mailed notification appears to have not reached Ms. Langlinais prior to her crash,” Honda spokesman Chris Martin said in a statement.

Honda notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the air bag rupture in Ms. Langlinais’ Honda Civic. The agency then analyzed police reports, medical records, the vehicle, and other evidence before concluding the airbag was the likely cause of Ms. Langlinais’ death.

“After examination of the vehicle and other evidence, NHTSA has concluded that a ruptured Takata airbag inflator is likely to have been involved,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in statement.

The total number of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall has topped 30 million and spans 14 automakers. Honda has been the automaker hardest hit by the defect, which affects more than five million of its vehicles. All seven deaths linked to Takata airbags have occurred in Honda vehicles.

Sources:

Automotive News: GM ignition-switch death toll rises to 111
Automotive News: Honda confirms 7th death from Takata airbags
Consumer Reports
Montgomery County Police Authority