By Jeff Green and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg News
DETROIT (June 10, 2015) — The airbag recall notice that arrived in the mailbox of a Louisiana woman two days after the crash of her 2005 Honda Civic that killed her may be the seventh fatality linked to the defective Takata Corp. safety device.
The driver, Kylan Langlinais, 22, received the recall notice in the mail April 7, two days after the wreck and two days before she died, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Lafayette, La.
The driver's side airbag exploded with too much force and sprayed shrapnel into the passenger compartment after the car left the road and hit a utility pole at about 4 a.m. on April 5, according to the complaint.
The airbag system “violently exploded and sent metal shards, shrapnel and/or other foreign material into the passenger compartment,” according to the lawsuit.
Takata bowed to pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and agreed May 19 to expand the recall to cover about 34 million airbag inflaters — a move that could become the largest product-safety recall action in U.S. history.
There have been six deaths — five in the U.S. — linked to a defect that can cause the bags to deploy with too much force, sending metal shards into the passenger compartment. Previous recalls covered only about 17 million vehicles.
More than 50 million vehicles globally have been recalled because of Takata airbags since 2008, according to Reuters' estimates.
Honda Motor Corp. was notified of the Louisiana crash and is gathering additional information, said Honda spokesman Chris Martin. Robert Rendine, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Takata, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The most recent previous fatality linked to the defect was the January death of Carlos Solis IV in Houston, involving a 2002 Honda Accord. Honda has confirmed three other deaths and at least 60 injuries in the U.S. and is investigating a fifth death linked to the flaw. Honda has confirmed another death in Malaysia.
It's not clear how fast Ms. Langlinais was traveling because there were no witnesses although there was substantial damage to the vehicle, so it wasn't a low speed crash, said Kenneth D. St. Pe, a lawyer for Ms. Langlinais's mother, Crystal Langlinais, who filed the lawsuit. He said he didn't think alcohol was a factor in the crash.
“When she was in the hospital, they did exploratory surgery and found no other injuries,” he said “Her sole injury was that her throat was cut open.”
The case is Langlinais v. Honda Motor Co., 15-cv-01824, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).
This Bloomberg News report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.