WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Two lawsuits filed against Japanese company Takata Corporation, its subsidiary TK Holdings Inc., and General Motors LLC were voluntarily dismissed on Jan. 25.
According to a report by the Winston-Salem Journal, the lawsuits claimed that the companies manufactured and produced defective airbags that exploded without impact or collision, causing injuries and fatalities.
The suits were filed in October 2016 in separate North Carolina districts — one in Forsyth Superior Court and another in Guilford Superior Court. Parks Chevrolet of Kernersville, North Carolina, was also named as a defendant in the Guilford suit. Attorneys Willie Gary of the Stuart, Florida firm Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson and Gary, PLLC, and Miguel A. Cuadra of Winston-Salem filed the suits on behalf of claimants David Ebron of Forsyth and Valissa Dillard of Guilford.
The dismissals were a result of two circumstances involving Takata taking responsibility for the issue. In February, Takata pleaded guilty to allegedly hiding the defects in the airbags in a criminal proceeding. The company also has agreed to pay $850 million to automakers who used their airbags, $125 million those victimized by the defect including family members, and an additional $25 million in fines.
Ebron’s suit claims that he was driving his Chevrolet Silverado one morning in December 2014 when the airbag exploded without cause. The bag’s expulsion hit Ebron in the face, rendering him unconscious while his foot was still on the accelerator. Ebron crashed into a tree and sustained brain damage, broken bones, and a ruptured right eye.
In Dillard’s case, the airbag allegedly exploded on impact during a crash in July 2016 in Greensboro, and caused the driver to suffer a brain injury, loss of her right eye and several facial injuries.
The suits allege that Takata and General Motors knew the airbags were defective up to 10 years before the accidents and that there were 13 incidents of drivers being killed or injured by faulty airbags between 2009 and 2014.
Both Ebron and Dillard are in settlement talks with the companies. The attorneys had been seeking $1 billion in punitive damages and $250 million in compensatory damages.