United States Federal Courthouse Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
United States Federal Courthouse Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

Torrance-based American Honda Motor Co. and a Japanese parts supplier are being sued on behalf of Southland car owners over allegedly faulty inflatable airbags, court papers show.

The proposed class-action lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, contends that instead of safely deploying airbags to protect occupants, Honda installed parts that can deploy with too much force, sending metal and plastic shrapnel into the car. Defective Takata Corp. inflators have caused multiple injuries and fatalities, according to the suit filed Thursday.

Honda has recalled 6 million vehicles globally since 2008 because of the Takata air bag flaw, the lawsuit states.

A representative of American Honda did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Takata spokesman Alby Berman said he could not comment on pending litigation.

The complaint alleges that Tokyo-based Takata may have cut corners to build cheaper airbags, and that Honda may have bought its airbags from Takata to reduce manufacturing costs. The result, according to the lawsuit, is that instead of saving lives, defective Takata airbags in Honda autos are injuring drivers and passengers involved in otherwise minor and survivable accidents.

“We’re talking about a critical vehicle safety component that makes the difference between life or death in an automobile accident,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at plaintiffs’ law firm Hagens Berman. “Consumers deserve far more from Takata and Honda — two parties that have clearly let safety take a backseat to profits.”

The suit seeks to represent anyone in the Southland and elsewhere who purchased or leased a Honda vehicle with a defective Takata airbag that has been subject to an airbag-related warning or recall.

City News Service

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