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Mercedes-Benz Sued Over Exploding Takata Airbag in Florida (2)

March 10, 2021, 10:40 AM

Mercedes-Benz USA was sued in Florida by a driver and passenger who say they were injured by an exploding Takata airbag inflator in what may be the first such claim of its kind against the unit of Daimler AG.

Nermina Alimanovic and Elvir Islamovic allege that when the airbag in their 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-250 ruptured during a collision in November, it sent shrapnel into their faces and bodies.

Automakers continue to face legal claims tied to airbags produced by Japan’s Takata Corp. Its series of airbag recalls led to the company filing for bankruptcy in 2017 and spurred lawsuits by consumers and accident victims. The airbags can malfunction and send shards of metal at drivers and passengers.

“This is apparently the first rupture case confirmed against Mercedes,” said Andrew Felix, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Mercedes for years has told consumers that this would not be a problem because their airbags would not rupture.”

Daimler believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to “vigorously” defend against it, the automaker said in an emailed statement. It has been one of the least-affected companies by the Takata saga. Of the roughly 1.26 million recalled Takata airbags in Mercedes-Benz cars, about 60% have been fixed, according to figures from U.S. regulators.

At least 24 deaths and 240 injuries have been linked to defective Takata airbags, the plaintiffs said in the complaint. The incidents date back to at least 2003 and involve vehicles made by Acura, BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota, the plaintiffs said.

Daimler “knew about the Takata airbag inflator’s defectively dangerous condition for several years prior to the incident that forms the basis of this lawsuit,” the plaintiffs allege.

Felix said his 25 year-old client, Alimanovic, was in the passenger seat and suffered a brain injury and lost an eye due to the airbag rupture. “She’s mentally and physically scarred,” Felix said. “This whole defect was preventable.”

In February 2016, Daimler announced a recall of about 705,000 Mercedes cars and about 136,000 Daimler vans in the U.S. due to issues with Takata airbags.

(Updates with Daimler’s statement in the fifth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Ryan Beene, Gabrielle Coppola and Christoph Rauwald.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Malathi Nayak in San Francisco at mnayak21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

Peter Blumberg, Craig Trudell

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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