Kyla Asbury Nov. 6, 2014, 1:57pm

MIAMI (Legal Newsline) - Eighteen individuals and car dealerships have filed a class action lawsuit against Takata Corporation claiming its defective airbags caused damages.

Takata's defective airbags have caused Chrysler, Ford , General Motors, BMW, Honda, Mazda , Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Fuji Heavy’s Subaru and Toyota vehicles to recall millions of vehicles and replace the airbags, the complaint says.

TK Holdings Inc., Highland Industries Inc., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, BMW of North America LLC, BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. were all named as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs purchased or leased the defective vehicles manufactured, distributed or sold by the vehicle manufacturer defendants that contain airbags manufactured by Takata, according to a complaint filed Oct. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Many vehicles made in the early 2000s were named in various recalls, according to the suit.

"The defective vehicles contain airbags manufactured by...Takata that, instead of protecting vehicle occupants from bodily injury during accidents, violently explode and expel vehicle occupants with lethal amounts of metal debris and shrapnel," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim the serious danger posed by the lethal Takata airbags was not disclosed to U.S. safety regulators until 2008, despite red flags raised by the 2001 Isuzu and 2004 Honda exploding airbag incidents.

Honda received three additional reports of airbag rupture incidents in 2007, but never issued recalls or told U.S. safety regulators that the incidents involved exploding airbags, according to the suit.

"Finally, in November 2008, Honda informed U.S. authorities that it had a problem with some of the Takata airbags installed in its vehicles," the complaint states. "However, at that time Honda recalled only 4,000 Accords and Civics."

The plaintiffs claim in April 2009, six months after the limited 2008 recall, a Takata airbag in Florida resident Jennifer Griffin’s Honda Civic exploded after a minor accident.

The lethal explosion sent a two-inch piece of shrapnel from the airbag flying into Griffin’s neck, according to the suit, and, although Griffin survived, when highway troopers found her, blood was gushing from a gash in her neck. Griffin’s car was not part of the 2008 recall.

"To date, over 14 million vehicles with Takata’s airbags have been recalled worldwide, and there are reports that additional vehicles that have not yet been disclosed by the defendants could join the list of recalls," the complaint states. "The large majority of those recalls have come only within the last year despite the fact that many of the vehicles were manufactured with a potentially defective and dangerous airbag over a decade ago."

The plaintiffs claim the defendants, who concealed their knowledge of the nature and extent of the defects from the public, have shown a blatant disregard for public welfare and safety.

The plaintiffs are seeking class certification and compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are represented by Peter Prieto, John Gravante III and Matthew Weinshall of Podhurst Orseck PA; Lawrence A. Sucharow, Christopher J. Keller, Martis Alex, Eric J. Belfi, Michael W. Stocker and Gregory A. Asciolla of Labaton Sucharow LLP; Roland Tellis, Mark Pifko, David Fernandes and J. Burton LeBlanc of Baron & Budd PC; and Frank C. Dudenhefer Jr. of the Dudenhefer Law Firm LLC.

The case is assigned to District Judge James Lawrence King.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida case number: 1:14-cv-24009

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