The family of an Arlington teenager is suing Honda and a local Honda dealership after a faulty airbag left the teen scarred physically and emotionally.
Courtnie Giddens was involved in a car accident in May 2014 that caused the Takata airbag in her Honda Accord to deploy.
“It’s kind of like a like a big huge explosion in your face. Like a bomb just went off,” she said. “I remember the hard hit I had against my seat. Next thing I remember, I was soaking wet. I didn’t understand why till I looked down and there was blood just everywhere,”
The family says the accident happened after they received a recall notice for the Takata airbag. They went to the dealership to try to get it replaced but were told to come back the next day because the dealership did not have the part.
“They were assured that there would be no problem. That this was a problem that affected very few vehicles,” J. Mark Sudderth, the family’s attorney. “And as long as she kept her seatbelt on, she would be safe in any event.”
But the next day would be too late. That very night, Courtnie was in a chain reaction accident the caused the airbag to open. The accident sent pieces of the airbag inflator into Courtnie’s nose and chest.
The lawsuit claims negligence and cites a failure to repair the vehicle and air bag as promised and scheduled, informing the plaintiff and her family the vehicle was safe to drive when they should have known it was not, and failing to provide the plaintiff with alternative transportation pending repairs.
“Our primary claim in the case is strict product liability because this product was defective,” explained Sudderth.
Takata is seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out saying under international law, the Japanese company wasn't served properly. Honda blames Courtnie and said the accident was her fault.
“Part of the problem is an auto industry that doesn’t share with the public its problems, said attorney Frank Branson who is not involved in the case.
Branson has sued many auto manufacturers and others in transportation in the past. He says the manufacturer knew of the airbag problem as far back as 2004 but did nothing for years.
“It’s just terrible,” said Branson. “And you don’t know who's going to be in harm’s way when those things go off.”
“I have to remember what I went through that night every single day and the fear and the pain that I went through that night,” said Courtnie. “And ever since then through all the surgeries, it’s just a constant reminder.”
Courtnie says she hopes other will take note of her accident and stop driving cars that have been flagged for recall.