— General Motors has been sued by owners who claim they are still waiting on their Takata airbag inflators to be replaced for free under safety recalls.
Some of the affected models have been recalled but not repaired, while other models aren't scheduled for recall until the end of 2018.
According to the proposed class-action lawsuit, the vehicles (full list here) are allegedly equipped with defective Takata airbag inflators that have already killed at least 18 people in the U.S and at least 22 worldwide.
The inflators are at risk of rupturing and sending shards of metal into vehicle occupants because the propellant used to deploy the airbags can become unstable. Heat, humidity and moisture alters the chemical to the point a violent explosion takes the place of what should be a quick mini-explosion to deploy the airbag.
The lawsuit mentions just how explosive ammonium nitrate can be, as it's the same chemical Timothy McVeigh used in April 1995 to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The plaintiffs claim General Motors was involved in the design and testing of Takata airbag inflators and knew the dangers of ammonium nitrate but chose to use the chemical to save money. GM also allegedly knew or should have known no later than 2003 about a Takata inflator that ruptured in a BMW vehicle.
In addition, Honda occupants were injured by Takata airbags in 2004 and 2007, causing Honda to issue recalls in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Then in May 2015, Takata finally filed defect reports with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the plaintiffs claim GM has failed in its duty to protect customers by skipping recalls to replace the airbag inflators.
The plaintiffs further allege GM should have been providing loaner vehicles to customers but chose instead to do nothing.
According to the plaintiffs, their vehicles have lost value because GM didn't disclose the dangers associated with the Takata inflators. Owners also claim vehicles that haven't been recalled are still dangerous to drive, while GM says the evidence shows the vehicles are safe.
The complete list of vehicles included in the proposed class-action shows certain vehicles contain allegedly defective passenger airbags, some involve the driver-side inflators while other vehicles have defective airbags on both sides.
The plaintiffs claim they were convinced to purchase the GM vehicles based on viewing advertisements, with just one example that of plaintiff John Condon, a resident of Bronxville, New York.
Condon owns a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado he bought new in June 2013 for about $26,500. He says he decided to buy the truck after he "viewed or heard commercials and reviews through television, radio, and the internet that touted the safety and reliability of his vehicle and New GM vehicles generally."
The plaintiff claims he took the truck to a dealership in October 2017 and asked if it was subject to any recalls, and the dealer let him know the truck wasn't affected by a recall.
Even though the truck hasn't yet been recalled, Condon says he doesn't allow anyone to sit in the passenger seat of his 2013 Silverado. The plaintiff also claims his truck has lost value and he wouldn't have purchased the truck or would have paid less for it if GM would have warned him about the inflators.
Meanwhile, GM says it shouldn't be forced to recall millions of vehicles because the Takata airbag inflators in those vehicles are different than inflators at risk of exploding. The automaker said in February 2018 that no Takata airbag inflators had exploded out of 44,000 airbag deployments.
According to GM, scientific research company Orbital ATK tested 5,000 Takata inflators in lab conditions and none exploded. In addition, GM says Orbital determined the inflators would work as intended for 30 years.
The General Motors Takata airbag lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan - John Brugaletta, et al., v. General Motors Company, et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.