Class action filed over Takata airbags
An open class action will be filed against car manufacturers in Australia over the ongoing Takata airbag saga now linked to 18 deaths around the world.
Toyota, Honda and Mazda are in lawyers' crosshairs for alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law.
The class action follows revelations this week some companies are refitting defective Takata airbags with the same brand of potentially-faulty products.
Lawyer Damian Scattini said motorists needed to enforce their consumer rights.
"It is, quite frankly, outrageous and almost inconceivable that there are over one million cars on Australian roads that contain a 'safety' product that could, at any time, explode with lethal force," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Federal Court legal action would be complementary to any measures taken by regulators, Mr Scattini said.
The Australian government on Monday warned it could enforce a mandatory recall at the direction of the consumer watchdog if it wasn't satisfied car makers were prioritising the current voluntary measure.
It has written to all manufacturers demanding an urgent update after NSW Police said the death of a 58-year-old man in Sydney last week was likely due to a defective airbag.
The man was hit in the neck by a small fragment during a collision.
Takata airbags use ammonium nitrate to trigger inflation, but the chemical can deteriorate over time and cause a metal canister to explode too forcefully, projecting shrapnel.
The Sydney incident was the first death in Australia to be linked to Takata airbags.
Potential Brisbane plaintiff Tamika Moulton, 29, said she had sought assurances from Toyota her 2007 Yaris was safe after having its airbag replaced, but was yet to receive a reply.
"I am extremely concerned about this," she said.
"The faulty airbags are alarming enough on their own, but to replace them with equally faulty ones is reprehensible."
Takata urged all consumers to contact their dealer immediately if their vehicle was captured under the worldwide recall.
"Takata is deeply sorry for all loss of life and injuries that have occurred in any case where a Takata airbag inflator has failed to deploy as intended," a spokesman said in a statement to AAP.
More than 2.3 million vehicles in Australia were subject to the recall originally issued in 2009, but only 850,000 have had their Takata airbags replaced.
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