Federal Court Refuses To Dismiss Injured Jeep Owner’s Spontaneous Airbag Deployment Lawsuit
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has denied FCA US, LLC’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit of a young woman who was severely burned after her 2002 Jeep Liberty’s airbags spontaneously deployed without a car accident while she was driving. The lawsuit is GUTIERREZ DE PINERES v. FCA US, LLC and is being litigated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under Case Number 1:19-cv-21282-DPG.
FCA US, LLC had argued that because the vehicle was more than 12 years old, it should not have to pay damages for injuries resulting from any alleged product defect, and also that the victim failed to plead her claim for fraudulent concealment with sufficient particularity. In denying the Motion to Dismiss, the Court found that statutes of repose are affirmative defenses that the defendant has the burden to prove. While the case is not yet ripe for the Court to rule on summary judgment or at trial, the Court found that at this stage of the litigation, Gutierrez De Pineres has pled with sufficient particularity that FCA US, LLC concealed the product defect such that the statue of repose is tolled. In addition, the Court found that Gutierrez De Pineres has pled her claim for fraudulent concealment with sufficient particularity.
On September 4, 2017, Gutierrez De Pineres was driving her mother’s 2002 Jeep Liberty in her neighborhood when the airbags suddenly went off without notice or an accident. She is the fifth such case Turchin’s office is handling against Jeep’s company, FCA US, LLC.
As a Product Liability Attorney, Jason Turchin, Esq. believes this ruling opens the door for victims to get justice. “The impact of this Court’s ruling should send a strong message to companies who send products to our State of Florida. We will continue to fight for the safety of our residents and visitors,” said Turchin. “If a company is aware of a product defect and fraudulently conceals the defect to continue selling products, it cannot hide behind a 12 year statutory time limit.”
Moreover, Turchin says that this Court’s ruling means victims may still be able to bring product liability claims after the 12 year time limit. “I want the public to know that time may not have run out to bring a claim if you were injured as a result of a product defect if the manufacturer allegedly fraudulently concealed the defect,” says Turchin.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Commission Recall Number 15V-046 from January 27, 2015, the 2002 Jeep Liberty Gutierrez De Pineres was driving “may experience a front airbag and/or seatbelt pretensioner inadvertent deployment.” This could cause, “an inadvertent airbag deployment while driving” which “could distract the driver and cause a crash without warning.”
According to a recall notice published online, “FCA US LLC has decided that a defect, which relates to motor vehicle safety, exists in certain 2002 and 2003 model year Jeep Liberty models; 2002 through 2004 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee models; and 2003 and 2004 model year Dodge Viper models.”
“Our investigation revealed a recent recall of the Jeep’s airbags for this exact defect, yet none of our clients received recall notices,” said Turchin. “Jeep’s manufacturer allegedly knew about this defect for more than a decade and I believe should have done more to alert the public so no other Jeep driver or passenger has to go through what our clients are going through.”
Turchin made headlines previously after filing one of the first lawsuits against Honda and Takata in 2014 raising awareness to the Takata airbag defects. That lawsuit, NUNEZ v. TK HOLDINGS, INC., TAKATA CORP., and AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO. INC. filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under Case Number 1:14-cv-23944, was one of the initial cases which led to the national airbag recall of more than 80,000,000 vehicles. Turchin continues to represent victims injured as the result of automotive defects.
About Jason Turchin, Esq.
Attorney Jason Turchin has handled over 6,000 claims for victims of accidents, personal injury and wrongful death throughout the United States. He is a #1 best-selling author in personal injury and accident law, a published author on Automotive Product Liability For Self-Driving Vehicles, a member of the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and is admitted to practice law in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and several federal circuit and appellate bars. His main office is in Weston, Florida, with satellite offices in Orlando, Miami, and Key West. For more information, Jason Turchin, Esq. can be reached at www.victimaid.com or at (800) 337-7755.