Articles Posted in Car Recalls

Used car dealer holding keys to unsafe car in Massachusetts.

A dangerous bill has been filed in Massachusetts seeking to give used car dealers the right to sell used cars with pending recalls. Dealers would just have to provide written disclosure. Safety groups are opposed here and in other states.

The automotive industry has been pushing states to pass legislation allowing car dealers to sell used cars with open safety recalls. The industry wants to just disclose the pending recalls, rather than provide repair. Proposed legislation was the subject of a hearing at the Massachusetts State House this week. Massachusetts is the 11th state where this unsafe and anti-consumer legislation has been introduced over the past five years. Most other states have not passed the measures pushed by car dealers.

MassPIRG represented a coalition of safety organizations before the State House Joint Committee on Monday, speaking out against the bill, SB 179/HB 262, An Act further regulating business practices between motor vehicle dealers, manufacturers, and distributors. The bill was filed by Rep. Daniel J. Hunt and Sen. Marc R. Pacheco.

If approved, this proposal would allow Massachusetts car dealers to sell used cars under recall and simply provide written disclosure about outstanding repairs and defects, according to MassPIRG.

MassPIRG and its coalition strongly oppose this legislation, calling it a “serious threat to the safety of everyone who shares the roads,” and a “dangerous, profoundly anti-consumer, anti-safety, special interest bill.” It further noted there is no other recalled product that can be legally sold. You can read the coalition’s full statement here.

The proposal would weaken some of the most fundamental Massachusetts laws designed to protect consumers. Under the current laws, car dealers must affirmatively warrant that used cars are safe to operate on the roads. Dealers can be held liable for failing to comply with common law duty of care and for engaging in acts which are unfair, deceptive or negligent and result in wrongful death. Consumers have the right to recover financial losses in court or file a civil lawsuit in cases involving personal injury or wrongful death.

The Role of the Automotive Lobbying Groups

The Center for Public Integrity has teamed up with USA Today and The Arizona Republic to cover the lobbying effort by the automotive industry in the wake of the massive auto recalls. There are a number of industry groups, but the media partners report the Automotive Trade Association Executives has drafted “suggested” legislation being provided to many states. The Washington D.C.-based organization represents more than 100 executives from the regional auto dealer associations.

The media partners reported the goal was for the legislation to have two parts: one requiring manufacturers to fairly compensate auto dealers for holding onto used cars which needed repairs. The second part would allow those same auto dealers to sell recalled used cars if they disclosed repairs were needed.

Reporting on the Many Injuries

Over the last decade, drivers have suffered through recall after recall – over 280 million vehicles overall, according to the Consumer Federation of America. While many repairs have been made, the group estimates over 70 million recalled vehicles remain on the road.

As part of their coverage, the media partners have covered the stories of cars being sold multiple times after recalls and the injuries that follow.

The stories include that of Carlos Solis, a 35-year-old Texas father of two killed by a defective airbag in his Honda Accord. Solis was hit by an oncoming car as he waited to make a turn into an apartment complex outside of Houston. While his passenger was left uninjured and the vehicle suffered little exterior damage, Solis was struck in the neck by metal from the airbag. It severed his carotid artery and he died within minutes.

Solis had no warning about the defective airbag. An independent used car dealer sold the car without fixing the airbags or warning him Honda had recalled the vehicle years earlier. His family filed a civil lawsuit. Across the country, other families who lost loved ones did the same. Car dealers took notice.

Tennessee’s “Used Recall” Law

According to the media partners, legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts and 10 other states, including California, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

Tennessee is one state which passed the law with the car dealers’ language intact. What happened there shows the automotive industry is reaching too far, disregarding potential injuries and deaths and harming families already in pain.

In 2014, Lara Gass, 27, died in a car crash caused by a faulty ignition switch in a Saturn Ion. GM had just recalled the safety defect a few weeks earlier. Her parents approached the local state legislator, asking him to introduce “Lara’s Law,” which would have banned the sale of recalled used cars.

The state lawmaker consulted with a local lobbyist from the Tennessee Automotive Association. They edited the language, removing the sales ban. Instead, they added a requirement to disclose the auto recalls to consumers.

The Gass family stopped supporting the bill. The local lawmaker – who had received $56,000 in campaign donations from local dealers – withdrew the bill. But that wasn’t the end of it. The next year, the same lawmaker reintroduced the legislation in the state Senate with the sales ban sought by the Gass family. Another legislator introduced an identical bill in the state House. Since these were identical bills, there would be little to reconcile before committees.

Neither bill moved forward, but the second lawmaker ended up helping the auto dealers add the language to an unrelated law regulating, of all things, rickshaws. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed “The Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Law” on May 5, 2017.

“Lawmakers were more influenced by lobbyists than they were by citizens trying to do the right thing,” Jay Gass told the media outlets.

The one exception in the Tennessee law is car dealers cannot sell used recalled cars with special notices, including “do-not-drive recalls” or “stop-sale orders.” But these are very rarely issued.

Federal Legislation May Be Ahead

Hopefully, no other state will have to consider this type of anti-consumer legislation. Last month, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced federal legislation that would ban all sales, leases and loans of used cars with open recall notices. This would be a uniform law protecting car buyers, drivers and road users under one standard in all 50 states.

Boston Product  Liability Lawyers – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Boston personal injury lawyers are experts in handling product liability cases involving defective parts in cars and trucks. We represent clients in all types of product liability cases, including those involving defective construction equipment, fitness equipment, toys and consumer products. Our attorneys provide plaintiff’s representation in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Continue reading

‘Tis the season to shop for holiday toys and gifts. Or to bring that product back, for a full refund or replacement?

While a record number of consumers shopped for the holidays, IKEA and Honda issued major safety recalls in November. We share an update on these recalls and continue our Project KidSafe series on toy safety.

Honda Odyssey Recall. It’s a replacement part if you own a Honda Odyssey and unfortunately, you can expect to wait.

Honda Odyssey van

107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because of a problem with the power doors. Photo: Wikipedia.

Just in time for the Thanksgiving drive, Honda recalled 107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because the power doors may improperly latch and can potentially open while the vehicle is in operation. Honda has not received any reports of injuries.

Honda recalled vehicles from the 2018 and 2019 model years on November 20, 2018. The automaker called on drivers to request replacement power sliding door kits through an authorized Honda dealer. Replacement parts should arrive at licensed dealers in late December.

Honda advised owners they can disable the power door. Use manual operation until replacements arrive.

This is not the first recall involving Honda Odyssey vans. Last year, 900,000 Odyssey models from 2011 – 2017 were also recalled. In that case, Honda reported second-row seats could tip forward if not properly latched. Tipping could happen during moderate or heavy braking if seats were not properly latched after adjusting side-to-side or reinstalling a removed seat. Honda received 46 reports of minor injuries.

To learn more about the recalls, visit the Honda website.

IKEA dining tables recall November 2018

IKEA recalled these dining room tables in November 2018 because the dining surface can collapse. Return for a refund.

IKEA Tables. It is a return if you have an IKEA table. The retailer recalled 8,200 dining tables in the U.S. and 1,500 in Canada on November 27, 2018, warning the table’s glass extension leaf can detach and drop.

This has already happened three times. IKEA reports one minor injury, requiring no medical attention.

These tables sold at IKEA stores and online from February 2017 through October 2018. They sold for approximately $300. IKEA says consumers  can return them for a full refund or a replacement table. Learn more on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Consumer Safety Tip: Consumers do not have to wait for the news media to report unsafe products and product recalls. You can view recalls online on the CPSC website and even sign up to receive email alerts when products are recalled. Visit the toy safety page on our website to learn how to sign up.

Not every recall is the same. The CPSC can release product recalls calling for refunds or replacements. Some products can be repaired easily. Others cannot. Consumers should pay attention to all recalls. Encourage friends and family to do the same: return and refund or replacement/repair. Another option is just remove the recalled product from your home, if it can be taken apart and discarded with care, so other children cannot reuse it.

A Decade of Toy Safety Efforts, Passage of Federal Safety Legislation to Protect Massachusetts Families

Toys can be defective and recalled after causing serious injuries.At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston product liability lawyers specialize in representing those injured by defective products. Toy injuries are common, even though toys should only be safe and fun for children. It is painful to learn they can be defective or may not have been fully tested or properly labeled. Defective toys can cause serious injuries, including fingertip lacerations, burns, facial injuries and broken bones. For children under age 3, the leading hazard is toys which contain small parts and balloons which can cause choking and suffocation. Toys should be tested to see if parts can fit through the “small parts” test. Those which pass through the “small parts” cylinder should have age-appropriate warnings, which read “Choking Hazard – Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.”

Among older children and teens, Hoverboards and riding toys are popular holiday gifts. These toys have injured and killed  in recent years, with Hoverboards also burning down homes as the lithium ion batteries charged.  Before you buy, check the CPSC’s safety standard for Hoverboards (UL2272 safety standard). Remember the standard is still new, first issued in 2016, and not an endorsement for safety. In fact, the CPSC has strongly urged consumers not to buy Hoverboards, as has W.A.T.C.H., the Boston-based non-profit which included Hoverboards on its “10 Worst Toys” lists.

Taking the time to check if a toy you want to buy – or already own – has been recalled can prevent injuries and save your loved ones’ lives. The number of toy recalls varies by year, but there are always recalls. So far in 2018, we have seen child-related recalls of dolls, toys with loose wheels, clothing, toys with excessive lead limits and go karts. In 2017, the CPSC reported 28 recalls of individual products. Over the past 10 years, 2008, 2009 and 2010 have seen the most toy recalls, with the highest number coming in 2008, when 172 toys were recalled, according to the CPSC.

This was the first year of major safety changes, including passage of the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. For the first time, toys had to be tested to ensure compliance with the law and the CPSC was granted greater authority in overseeing toy safety standards. Federal limits were also imposed on toys containing lead and other chemical hazards. In December 2008, Mattel and subsidiary Fisher Price agreed to pay $12 million to Massachusetts and 38 other states over events leading to recalls of toys with lead levels above the new federal limit.

Beyond toys, children’s products are also subject to frequent recalls, including names like Graco car seats and Britax strollers. This is a frightening fact, because these products carry children.


Breakstone, White & Gluck writes about toy safety as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, with a goal of preventing toy-related injuries. Our recent blogs:

Trouble in Toyland Report Offers Valuable Warnings For Holiday Shoppers

Hitting the Safety Brake: A Warning About Battery-Operated Ride-On Toys

The 10 Worst Toys of 2018

Protect Your Children from Lithium Button Batteries

Continue reading

20141111_airbag.jpgLong before the deaths and injuries, Takata knew its airbags were defective, according to two former employees of the company.

In fact, Takata knew about the defects as far back as 2004, the workers told The New York Times. The Japanese company learned one of its airbags exploded and sent metal debris spewing at a driver in Alabama, then began secret testing at its U.S. headquarters in Michigan. The testing was conducted outside normal work hours and was never disclosed until now. Three months into testing, employees began to theorize the problem was the welding on the airbag’s inflator canister, but the investigation was shut down and employees were instructed to destroy all testing data.

It took Takata four years to report the faulty airbags in a regulatory filing. In November 2008, the first Takata airbags were recalled.

20141027_airbag.jpgLast week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an advisory urging the public to act immediately on recall notices impacting 7.8 million cars with Takata airbags. The airbags are now linked to four deaths and more than 100 injuries.

If you have not already done so, please immediately check if your vehicle’s airbags have been recalled. Visit Safercar.gov. Select your auto manufacturer and enter your vehicle identification number, or VIN.

While car manufacturers are required to notify owners of recalls, do not wait to receive a letter for the company. While many of the airbags were previously recalled, you may have missed an earlier letter or may not have appreciated how serious the recall actually is.

Toyota A month after being assessed a record $17.4 million fine, Toyota Motor Corp. has settled one of the first wrongful death lawsuits involving sudden and unintended acceleration by its vehicles.

The Japanese automaker confirmed last week it had reached an agreement with the family of Paul Van Alfen and his son’s fiancee, Charlene Jones Lloyd, for an undisclosed amount in the November 2010 accident in which they died, USA Today reported. The automaker said it has also settled another case filed under California’s lemon law by a retired Los Angeles police officer.

Van Alfen and Lloyd were killed in 2010 when the Toyota Camry they were traveling in on Interstate 80 in Utah suddenly accelerated. Van Alfen, the driver, attempted to stop the vehicle, but ran through a stop sign and into a wall. His other passengers, his wife and his son, were injured. The Utah Highway Patrol investigated and determined the car accident was the result of a sticking gas pedal.

Other Injury Lawsuits. The settlement comes as a group of lawsuits consolidated in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California moves forward. Prior to the consolidation, Toyota had also reached a $10 million settlement in a case involving an auto accident which killed a California police officer and his family.

The officer and his family were killed near San Diego in 2009 when their Lexus accelerated above 120 mph, struck an SUV, rolled off an embankment and burst into flames. The car accident was blamed on a improperly sized floor mat which was trapped in the accelerator.

More Than $1 Billion Settlement. In December 2012, Toyota agreed to a settlement worth more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses by car owners affected by its recalls. In recent years, the car manufacturer has recalled more than 14 million vehicles due to acceleration problems and brake defects.

$17.4 Million Fine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued Toyota a $17.4 million fine for safety defects in December 2012, the largest ever imposed. In 2010, the company paid a total of $48.8 in a series of three fines.

Related:
Toyota settles first wrongful death lawsuit, USA Today.

Toyota tackles acceleration lawsuits; questions remain, USA Today.

Toyota reaches $1 billion settlement in acceleration cases, USA Today.
Continue reading

highlander_web.jpgA defective crankshaft pulley is driving a new Toyota recall that will affect thousands of car owners. The Nov. 8 recall of 550,000 vehicles includes 420,000 cars in the United States. Toyota has now issued recalls for more than 13 million vehicles nationwide since September 2009. More vehicles have been recalled in other countries.

Toyota recalled the vehicles due to a crankshaft pulley defect that may cause steering problems. The vehicles have V6 engines and the U.S. models include 283,200 Toyota brand cars like Camry and Highlander vehicles and 137,000 Lexus vehicles.

Toyota said no injuries have been reported. The car manufacturer said the crankshaft pulley may have an inadequate amount of adhesive agent between the outer ring and the inner ring. This can cause the crankshaft pulley to become misaligned with the inner ring, possibly causing a noise or warning signal to light. When this happens, the belt for the power steering pump can detach from the pulley, making it hard for drivers to steer.

Toyota recalled 8 million vehicles between Nov. 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, most for defective pedals. In April 2010, the United States government fined the world’s largest automaker a record $16 million for its delayed response in notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the defects.

Recalls have continued through 2011, including last February’s recall of 2.17 million vehicles to repair mechanical defects that could cause the cars to accelerate out of control.

The Nov. 8 recall involves these defective motor vehicles: the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara; the 2004 Avalon; and the 2006 Highlander HV. The affected Lexus models are the 2004 and 2005 ES 330 and RX 330 and the 2006 RX 400h.

In January, Toyota will mail car owners a notification to make an appointment to have their vehicle inspected. Toyota will fix any vehicle in need of repair at no cost to consumers.
Continue reading

truck.jpgTwo major manufacturers have issued car recalls impacting more than three million drivers.

Ford last week announced the recall of more than 1.22 million pickup trucks because of a corrosion problem that can result in a gas tank falling off and catching on fire. The recalled trucks include the popular F-150.

The Ford recall affects older trucks sold between 1997 and 2004 in Canada, Washington D.C. and 21 cold-weather states where salt is used on the roads to prevent icing in the winter. Massachusetts is among those states.

The Michigan car manufacturer plans to notify affected owners in September and will repair the trucks for free. The models include: Ford F-150 (1997-2003), the 2004 F-150 Heritage, the F-250 (1997-1999) and the Lincoln Blackwood (2002-2003).

Ford said it has received eight reports of tanks falling, resulting in three injuries.

This is the second recall action involving Ford trucks in four months. In April, Ford expanded a recall of F-150 pickups to about 1.2 million trucks. In that case, the problem was the front-seat airbags could deploy without a motor vehicle crash.

Also last week, Honda Motor Co. announced the recall of more than 2.49 million cars, SUVs and minivans with defective transmission software. The defect can affect a car’s transmission if the software cannot keep up with movements, such as a vehicle trying to emerge from the snow or a driver moving between gears.

The Honda recall includes 1.5 million vehicles in the U.S., about 760,000 in China and 135,000 in Canada.

Globally, the recall affects four-cylinder Accord sedans (2005 – 2010). In the U.S. and Canada, the car recall also includes the CR-V crossover (2007 to 2010) and the small Element SUV from (2005 to 2008).

The company said no injuries or wrongful deaths have been reported due to the defect.

Honda will begin contacting U.S. consumers at the end of August about updating the software. The update will be free.
Continue reading