January 05, 2016

Based on new evidence gathered by Cohen Milstein showing that Takata Corp. had falsified test reports that revealed deadly flaws in its airbag inflators, the Firm along with attorneys at Tronfeld West & Durrett filed a petition in a Virginia state court to reopen the case of a mother of three who was killed six years ago when the driver’s side airbag in her Honda Accord exploded.

In the petition filed on January 5, 2016, in the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia, co-lead counsel Theodore Leopold, of Cohen Milstein, and Jay Tronfeld charge that the January 2013 settlement in the case involving Gurjit Rathore and her three children was fraudulently reached due to Takata’s deception and cover-up throughout case and failure to provide documents of the air bag defect.

Rathore and her children were returning to their Richmond, Va., home after a Christmas shopping trip on Dec. 24, 2009, when their vehicle sustained a minor collision. Instead of protecting Rathore from serious injury, the defective Takata airbag inflator ruptured and spewed metal fragments into her neck that resulted in her tragic and sudden death, which was witnessed by her young children. 

Attorneys for the family filed a lawsuit against Takata Corp. and American Honda Motor Co. in April 2011.  During the next two years of litigation, the plaintiffs’ attorneys conducted 50 depositions nationwide, including those of Takata and Honda officials. Takata produced thousands of documents, including technical information such as airbag inflator development and production validation test reports. The tests reports produced during the litigation were altered and manipulated, never revealing that the actual tests results showed ruptures of the kind that occurred in the Rathore case.  

The falsified tests were also given to Honda.  Takata covered up the air bag defects from both Honda and the American public, leaving those like Gurjit Rathore to suffer serious injuries and deaths.  For 15 years Takata covered up the failures shown in their own testing from the U.S. Government as well, even while both Honda and the Government were trying to learn the root cause of the air bag failures.

Among depositions taken in the case was that of Erick Anderson, Takata’s corporate representative in Detroit. He testified that Takata’s Vice President of Quality Assurance Al Bernat, prepared him for his testimony, and that Bernat knew all about the falsified test results but never informed Anderson. 
The connection to the specific ruptured inflator that killed Rathore was not apparent until Dec. 1, 2015, when attorney Ted Leopold began to take depositions and review documents in another Takata air bag defect case, Mincey v. Takata, that is being litigated in Jacksonville, Fla.  The fraudulent documents and testimony show Takata’s cover-up of defective propellant with the same chemical compounds as that contained in the airbag of Rathore’s 2001 vehicle.

Motion to Reinstate - January 5, 2016

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