U.S. District Judge John Arnold Kronstadt has appointed Beasley Allen Principal and head of the Consumer Fraud Section, W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) regarding auto supplier ZF TRW Automotive airbags that could fail to deploy. More than 12 million vehicles by multiple manufacturers are involved. The malfunctioning airbags are linked to at least eight deaths. The cases’ origins show noticeable similarities to the earlier cases involving defective Takata airbags. Some believe the growing complaints indicate a similarly large problem. Beasley Allen attorneys representing plaintiffs include Dee Miles, H. Clay Barnett, III, and Mitch Williams.
“I’m honored to be selected by Judge Kronstadt to serve in this leadership position,” Miles said. “The public was educated on the intricacies of airbags with the Takata airbag recall and I look forward to working with our leadership team to uncover the truth.”
In July 2019, a complaint was filed against ZF TRW Automotive seeking class-action certification over defective airbag control units. Plaintiffs claim that ZF TRW knowingly hid airbag defects from consumers. The airbag can “seize up” in an accident and cause seatbelt lock failure and failure of airbags to deploy. Automaker defendants include Kia Motors America, Hyundai Motor America, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mitsubishi Motors America, American Honda Motor, and Toyota Motor U.S.A.
“Some of the defendants have known for years that a defect existed with the airbags but failed to inform their customers and the public about the defect and its serious nature,” said Miles. “The defect has not been adequately addressed. It has caused deaths, injuries, and put the traveling public at increased risk of danger, not to mention devalued the vehicles.”
Class vehicles with the defective airbag include the following: 2013-2019 Hyundai Sonata; 2013-2019 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid; 2013 Kia Forte; 2013 Kia Forte Koup; 2013-2019 Kia Optima; 2012-2016 Kia Optima Hybrid; and 2014 Kia Sedona. The list of class vehicles may expand as discovery continues.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established the MDL last summer, consolidating 15 lawsuits that have increased to 25 currently. The MDL is In Re: ZF-TRW Airbag Control Units Products Liability Litigation, case number MDL 2905, and is located in the Central District of California.