Automotive

ARC Automotive Faces Billion-Dollar Lawsuit Over Alleged Airbag Defects

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ARC Automotive Faces Billion-Dollar Lawsuit Over Alleged Airbag Defects

In a recent development, ARC Automotive, Inc., a global manufacturer of airbag inflators for automotive applications, has been hit with a class-action lawsuit. The company, along with several vehicle manufacturers and airbag module suppliers, stands accused of knowingly selling vehicles equipped with defective airbag inflators. These inflators, produced before January 2018, are alleged to pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury due to a design defect.

Did ARC Automotive Violate Any Laws?

The lawsuit alleges that ARC Automotive, in conjunction with vehicle manufacturers and airbag module suppliers, violated consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the defect and continuing to sell vehicles with the hazardous inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that these defective inflators pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury. Despite this, ARC has refused to recall the inflators, which is a violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act that mandates manufacturers to recall vehicles with safety-related defects.

What Led to the Lawsuit?

The defect in question involves loose weld 'slag' or 'flash' in the interior of the inflators. This slag, a byproduct of the friction welding process used by ARC to join inflator components, can become dislodged during a crash. If this occurs, it can block the ventilation exit port, leading to inflator rupture and the projection of metal fragments into the passenger compartment.

Since 2009, there have been at least 10 known ruptures of the defective inflators, resulting in injuries and fatalities. Despite this, ARC has failed to notify consumers of the danger or take any action to protect the driving public. This inaction, coupled with the company's refusal to recall the defective inflators despite NHTSA's demand, has led to the filing of the class-action lawsuit.

Who Are the Class Members?

The proposed class includes all consumers in the United States who purchased, own, lease, or leased a vehicle containing ARC inflators between 2001 and 2018. In addition, state subclasses are included for consumers in their respective states of residence. The class is numerous and geographically dispersed, making individual joinder impracticable.

What Compensation Is Sought?

The plaintiffs are seeking to remove the defective inflators from the road, install safe airbags, and seek compensation for economic damages. The exact dollar amount has not been specified, but given the wide scope of the class and the severity of the alleged defect, it is at least $5 million.

What Could Be the Next Steps?

As the lawsuit progresses, ARC Automotive, along with the implicated vehicle manufacturers and airbag module suppliers, will have to present their defense. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, ARC could be ordered to recall all affected vehicles, replace the defective inflators, and pay out significant damages. However, the company could also choose to settle the case out of court. Either way, the case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of consumer safety in the automotive industry.

Case Facts

  • Status:
    Lawsuit Filed
  • Case Number:
    3:23-cv-00233
  • Filing Date:
    June 30, 2023
  • Jurisdiction:
    U.S. District Courts
  • State:
    Tennessee
  • Court:
    Tennessee Eastern District
  • Plaintiff:
    David Anderson et al
  • Defendant:
    ARC Automotive, Inc.
  • Plaintiff Firm:
    King & Spalding LLP
  • Defendant Firm:
  • Claims Administrator:
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Will Gendron
Will Gendron
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