Friday, January 30, 2009

It works but it may not, huh? I have no nice words for the trial bar

LA judge rules in $247-million seatbelt suit
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Car owners who claimed a seatbelt installed in some 4 million cars in California was improperly tested and its buckle might open in a crash lost a $247-million lawsuit against the manufacturer.
The TK-52 seatbelt by Takata Corp. was safe and met federal standards, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis said in a Jan. 16 preliminary ruling. A final ruling is expected in March.
Car owner Lupe Zavala represented owners of about 80 different auto models in the class-action suit. He accused the Tokyo-based company of violating state law by allegedly misleading consumers about testing of the seatbelts.
The suit didn't claim anyone was injured by the seatbelts but argued they might cause future problems. In addition to money, it sought to have the seatbelts recalled and retested.
"We respectfully disagree with the trial court's ruling and we plan to appeal," said Drew D. Hansen of Seattle, one of Zavala's attorneys.
The suit was ironic because Zavala said in a deposition that the seatbelt had functioned properly in an accident involving a pickup truck, according to Mark H. Berry, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented Takata at trial.
"He conceded that the seatbelt had protected his son" in the crash, Berry said.
Similar class-action lawsuits against Takata were previously dismissed in Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and New Mexico, said Ohio attorney Michael H. Carpenter, a lawyer representing the company.
The suit also named a New Jersey-based consumer testing organization, SGS U.S. Testing Co., Inc.

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