Nissan Faces Class Action Over Defective Air Bag Deployment

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Santa Clara, CA: Nissan North America is facing a defective automotive class action lawsuit alleging its side air bags in certain Nissan Frontier trucks deploy unnecessarily. The suit further claims that Nissan also refuses to pay for the resulting repairs.

Filed by plaintiff Bobette Brantley, the lawsuit asserts that the automaker designed side air bags in 2011-2012 Nissan Frontier trucks to inflate in rollover and near rollover conditions. However, it failed to warn consumers about how sensitive the air bags and seatbelt pretensioner igniters actually are. The seatbelt pretensioner igniters tighten any slack in seatbelts during an accident.

The lawsuit states that a defect in the class vehicles causes the side curtain air bags to deploy simultaneously and unnecessarily while also causing the seat belt pretensioner igniter to deploy. Once this happens, the vehicles are no longer safe to drive and consumers must pay thousands of dollars to have extensive repair work done.

According to the lawsuit, "The deployment of the side curtain air bags and the seatbelt pretensioner igniters is extremely distracting to drivers of class vehicles. The distraction is of such a magnitude that drivers of class vehicles are at risk of losing control of class vehicles, greatly increasing the possibility of a traffic accident, and injury."

In the suit, Brantley states that while she was driving her vehicle in December, in a way that she said Nissan represented the vehicle can be driven, the side curtain air bags suddenly and unexpectedly deployed, causing her to nearly lose control of the vehicle. As a result, she spent thousands of dollars to restore her Frontier to a safe, driveable condition.

Brantley asserts that Nissan was aware of the alleged defect as a result of consumer complaints, internal testing and dealership repair records. However, she claims, the automaker failed to disclose the defect and, in fact, actively concealed it from consumers.

The suit further claims that evidence of Nissan' knowledge of the alleged defect can be seen in the owner's manual for the Frontier, which states that the curtain air bags are designed to inflate in rollover or near rollover conditions and can inflate due to certain vehicle movements such as severe off-roading.

"It is plaintiff' contention, based upon plaintiff' own experiences, and based upon plaintiff' awareness of the complaints of other class members, that the class vehicles are too sensitive. As a result the 'near rollover conditions' design threshold, which signals the side curtain air bags and seatbelt pretensioner igniters to deploy, signals deployment under conditions where there is no true risk of a rollover,"the complaint states.

Brantley asserts Nissan refused to warn customers about the alleged defect, refused to remedy the defect and refused to compensate customers for any damages resulting from the defect.

The suit seeks certification of a class consisting of everyone who has bought or leased a class vehicle, as well as an order holding Nissan financially responsible for the defect, enjoining the automaker from continuing its deceptive practices, requiring the automaker to fix the defect and making Nissan disgorge part or all of its profits received from the sale or lease of the class vehicles.

Brantley is represented by Robert L. Starr and Adam Rose of The Law Offices of Robert L. Starr and Stephen M. Harris of The Law Offices of Stephen M. Harris.

The case is Brantley v. Nissan North America Inc. et al., case number BC609400, in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.



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