The Pinto- “Lee’s Car”

A faulty design in the Ford Pinto’s gasoline tank was the cause of over 500 deaths and hundreds of injuries for Pinto owners.  The defect made the gasoline tank vulnerable to explosion after rear-end collision.

A California jury awarded an unprecedented $128 million dollars for a claim against Ford.  A Los Angeles woman died and her 13 year-old passenger was burned over 90 percent of her body when their stalled Pinto was rear ended by a car traveling at 35 mph on the Los Angeles freeway.  The Pinto burst into flames.

On June 9, 1978, Ford recalled 1.5 million Ford Pintos and 30,000 Mercury Bobcat sedans and hatchback models.  Ford customers filed 117 lawsuits, according to Peter Wyden in The Unknown Iacocca.  The 1979 landmark case, Indiana v. Ford Motor Co., made the automaker the first U.S. corporation indicted and prosecuted on criminal homicide charges.

Iacocca, who became President of Ford in 1970, had little experience working on a car that was a new design.  The production period for the Ford Pinto was just 25 months and the normal production time span was 43 months.  The Ford Pinto became known as “Lee’s car” and he wanted a subcompact that “weighed no more than 2,000 pounds and sold for $2,000 dollars.”

Ford sold 328,275 Pintos in 1971, its first year.  Lee got what he wanted, but the public paid the price.  The $2,000 dollar limit left no room to protect the gasoline tank, even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gasoline tank.  With no room between the gasoline tank and differential housing and a flaw in the tube leading to the gasoline tank of the pre-1976 Pintos, a rear end collision would ignite gasoline that had leaked from the tank and the car would burst into flames.

Ford was aware of the defect, but decided to manufacture anyway.  In addition, a disclosure in a civil trial stated that Ford found it cheaper to pay off the families of the victims of Pinto fires than the $137 million it would cost to fix the Pinto immediately.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

Keyless Ignition Starts Trouble

A lawsuit seeking an injunction requiring automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all existing and future vehicles sold with keyless ignitions was filed in Los Angeles on August 26, 2015 against ten of the world’s biggest automakers.

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, GM, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford are some of the automakers facing a class action lawsuit on behalf of millions of Americans who drive cars with keyless ignitions.

The automakers sold keyless “fobs” without instituting safeguards, warnings or other safety features including audible engine-on alerts or “auto off,” which would automatically turn off the engine of a car left unattended.  There have been at least 13 deaths and numerous injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning after drivers failed to manually shut off their engines.

Such a device can be implemented without significant cost, but automakers refused to make the repair, recall the cars or provide an auto off software update.  GM and Ford even took steps to patent a shut off feature.

27 complaints have been logged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2009 concerning keyless ignitions. 

The lawsuit seeks to hold the automobile industry liable for defects that make driving unsafe, similar to the Takata airbags cases and ignition switch lawsuit against GM motors.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

Takata Airbag Defect : Products Liability

The Takata airbag defect – a new autotomobile products liability issue has drawn the nation’s attention as multiple deaths and severe injuries have been linked to exploding airbags.

The airbag manufacturers, Honda and Takata, may have known about this problem for a decade but failed to do what was necessary to protect consumers by correcting the defect.

Takata airbag systems, like other systems, contain metal inflators located behind the airbag cushions which emit gas during a collision causing the cushion to fill up and deploy.  In order to generate gas, the vehicles’ electronic control unit sends a signal that ignites propellant that it stored within the inflator.

The metal inflator remains intact normally in properly functioning airbags.  In certain defective Takata airbag systems, the inflator itself may rupture upon deployment and eject sharp metal objects that cause serious harm to the car’s occupants.  Think of it as metal shrapnel.

As of 2015, exploding Takata airbags have been linked to dozens of injuries and as many as five deaths.

The total number of recalled vehicles, according to NHTSA, is approximately 7.8 million. Car manufacturers; such as Honda, Mazda, Toyota and BMW began issuing their first recalls in 2013.

On November 6, 2014, the New York Times published an article which gave credence to the thought that this defect had been swept under the rug by Takata executives.

In addition to the defective airbag, Takata changed from using tetrazole to ammonium nitrate in their airbags as a cost saving measure.  Ammonium nitrate is a compound that “tended to disintegrate on storage under widely varying temperature conditions and could produce irregular ballistics consequence.”

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.