Teen’s family suing Honda due to being killed by airbag.
The family of Huma Hanif has filed a lawsuit in Harris County against Honda, Takata and others connected to the death of the 17-year-old George Ranch High School senior from a faulty Takata airbag which deployed during a minor crash on March 31.
A metal shard burst through the airbag, killing Hanif instantly when her Honda Civic collided with a legally parked car near the intersection of FM 762 and Gonyo Road in Richmond. The family is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.
The Hanif’s case is unique among these types of lawsuits, however, as it focuses on Takata’s use of ammonium nitrate in its airbag inflator assembly. According to the NHTSA, Takata is the only manufacturer which uses the compound.
“All of these airbags that have ammonium nitrate in them are potentially deadly,” said Mo Aziz, one of the attorneys representing the family. “It’s just an improper and unfit material to use in an airbag inflator.”
The lawsuit alleges ammonium nitrate encompassed within the airbag caused the inflator to disintegrate into shrapnel which propelled a small shard directly into Hanif’s neck.
Ammonium nitrate goes through a process known as thermal cycling, which causes deterioration of the substance over time.
“Every time you expose ammonium nitrate to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and then it goes below 90 degrees, it decomposes and breaks down—the same process every time,” Aziz said.
Extensive expoure to such eventually causes it to become so degraded that when subjected to a shock, instead of simply releasing the gas, the compound detonates according to Aziz.
Takata is the subject of a worldwide recall involving nearly 30 million vehicles.
Honda vehicles such as Hanif’s have been part of a nationwide recall for airbag inflator replacement.
Ruptured airbag inflators have been linked to 10 confirmed deaths and more than 100 injuries nationwide. Hanif was the second victim from the Houston area, along with Carlos Solis of Spring in January 2015.
Honda says that multiple recall notices were sent to the vehicle owner, but that the repairs were never made. Aziz and the family maintain they never received any such notice.
The family is naming TK Holdings (U.S. arm of Takata), Honda, Westside Hummer, Nizari Group, who owns a Discount Lube as well as the other person involved in the accident as defendants in the suit. Among the charges are negligence and gross negligence, design defect, marketing defect/failure to warn, manufacturing defect and more.
The suit also accuses Westside Hummer of having “actual knowledge” of the dangers and Discount Lube as being responsible for “negligence during inspection of the vehicle.”
Honda’s statement at the time of the crash is below:
During an inspection on April 6, accompanied by representatives of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Sherriff’s Department of Fort Bend County, Texas, and Takata, American Honda confirmed that the Takata driver’s airbag inflator ruptured in the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic on March 31, 2016, in Fort Bend County, Texas, resulting in the tragic death of the driver. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time.
Honda has shared all available vehicle history information collected to date with NHTSA and will continue to cooperate with NHTSA throughout the process of investigating this crash.
Honda currently has sufficient supplies of replacement inflators to complete the required repairs under the open recall that affects this vehicle, and we continue to encourage all owners of affected vehicles to seek repair immediately.”
Honda continues to urge owners of Honda and Acura vehicles affected by the Takata airbag inflator recalls to get their vehicles repaired at an authorized dealership as soon as possible. The authorized dealership will make appropriate repairs at no charge to the customer. If there is a delay in repairing an affected vehicle, Honda and Acura dealers are authorized to provide a free loaner or rental vehicle until the recall repair can be completed.
Takata issued the following statement at the time of the crash:
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the driver’s family in light of this tragic death. Takata is deeply sorry for all fatalities and injuries that have occurred in any case where a Takata airbag inflator has failed to deploy as intended. Takata continues to support all actions that advance vehicle safety and is in constant and close coordination with NHTSA to enhance consumer awareness. Takata strongly urges all consumers to check NHTSA’S www.safercar.gov website and contact their dealers immediately if they discover their vehicle is subject to a recall.”
In response to the NHTSA expanding the recall, Honda issued this statement:
Revisions to a November 2015 Consent Order between NHTSA and Takata now set a schedule for the recall of all Takata front driver and passenger airbag inflators that do not contain a moisture-absorbing desiccant. However, it is important to understand that for all Honda and Acura vehicles, all Takata driver front airbag inflators that do not contain desiccant are already under recall. Thus, for Honda and Acura, the amended Consent Order and schedule only affect non-desiccated passenger front airbag inflators.
NHTSA has set a five-stage schedule for the expanded recall that affects multiple automakers’ vehicles by the end of 2019.
In the announcement, NHTSA indicated that Takata will issue the first of five Defect Information Reports (DIR) on May 16, 2016, in which it will declare a defect in non-desiccated front airbag inflators in certain model year vehicles and in certain regions.
Once Honda receives the new DIR, they will immediately begin identifying vehicles affected and NHTSA with a formal intent of recall within a week of the DIR and issue a formal statement when the NHTSA has formally acknowledged the notification.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to airbag deployment, especially by Takata, contact the Attorneys at Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. by going to their website or calling 601-948-8005. There is no fee to discuss your case.