The parents of a Pennsylvania man who died when the driver side airbag inside his 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix failed to deploy in a fiery crash are suing General Motors and the dealership where the car was purchased.
Plaintiffs Samuel and Catherine Gabriele filed the lawsuit in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas July 31, alleging GM and Faulkner Buick GMC of Feasterville, Pennsylvania, sold their son Stephen Gabriele a car with a defective airbag system.
According to the Penn Record, the lawsuit states that Stephen Gabriele was driving his 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix south on West Philadelphia Ave. in Falls Township when he lost control of the vehicle and careened down an embankment.
The Grand Prix struck a large tree, but the vehicle’s airbag failed to deploy. As a result of the airbag failure, the lawsuit alleges, Stephen was knocked unconscious when his head hit the steering wheel. Because the vehicle caught on fire after colliding with the tree, Stephen inhaled soot and smoke, causing his death.
After the Oct. 15, 2016, crash, the Falls Township Police Department had Stephen’s Grand Prix towed to Rob’s Automotive in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where GM has inspected it numerous times as part of its crash investigation and other purposes related to the vehicle’s crashworthiness in fiery accidents.
Despite its involvement in the crash case, GM has not covered the towing and storage costs, the lawsuit alleges.
The defendants also “allegedly built and installed a driver’s side airbag system that was of a defective design and/or that was defectively manufactured, assembled and/or installed, which made it unsafe and unfit for its intended purpose.”
GM and the dealership “failed to warn drivers of that defective feature and sold a vehicle with that same defect,” the lawsuit alleges. Stephen bought his Grand Prix from Faulkner Buick GMC in July 2003.
The Gabrieles are seeking damages for wrongful death, product liability, vicarious liability, and negligence as well as punitive damages of more than $50,000, plus reasonable attorney costs and legal fees.