Lawsuit accuses Houston-area dealership of failing to replace recalled airbag
A woman seriously injured in a car accident is suing the Ford Motor Company and a Brazoria County dealership over a recalled airbag that she says should have been replaced long before the crash. According to the lawsuit, Sara Morgan suffered “significant bodily injuries” when a Takata airbag exploded in a crash in June 2020.
“There was a flash of light, and just looking down and seeing blood,” Morgan recalled of the moment of impact. “I just remember laying there working.”
Morgan lost his left eye and suffered hearing damage and deep cuts to his face when the airbag sent shrapnel into the car. Morgan was a passenger in the 2007 Mustang. The car was driven by her then-boyfriend, Branson Roy. Crash reports and photographs submitted as part of the trial show that the impact was not severe, but sufficient to deploy the driver and passenger airbags.
“It’s very scary to think about because the thing that’s supposed to protect you does the opposite,” Morgan said.
What Morgan didn’t know at the time was that the passenger side airbag was a Takata airbag and, according to the lawsuit, should have been replaced nearly two years before the crash. Court records show the car was taken to the Yaklin Ford dealership in Brazoria County in October 2018 to have the airbags replaced and perform a state inspection.
“We have evidence of what I call a system failure,” said attorney Rob Ammons, who represents Morgan. “They replaced the driver’s bag, but not the passenger bag.”
The National High Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, reports that 67 million Takata airbags have been recalled because they have the potential to explode when deployed, sending shrapnel into the faces of drivers and passengers .
“Air bags are supposed to save lives, not ruin them,” Ammons said.
According to Ammons, a call record from the Ford Motor Company shows that the automaker’s customer relations center contacted the owner of the Mustang to inform him of the driver and passenger side airbag recall in October 2018 after sending letters home. Ammons said at the time that Roy’s grandmother owned the Mustang, which she later gave to her grandson as a graduation present. Ammons said the record also shows that Ford notified the dealership of both recalls and that an appointment for work was scheduled.
Court records filed in the lawsuit read before this Mustang was introduced, “Yaklin Ford had replaced dozens of other defective inflators.” Ammons said dealership records show Yaklin ran through the Mustang’s vehicle identification number multiple times through Ford’s vehicle-specific information database and that database showed open recalls for driver and passenger airbags. However, Ammons said invoices presented during depositions show that only the Mustang’s driver-side airbag was replaced.
“It’s up to us to get the vehicle there. It’s their job to make sure the recall job gets done,” Ammons said.
“Did you get an explanation of what happened there?” asked KPRC 2 investigator Robert Arnold.
“Other than, ‘We admit we made a mistake.’ There was no explanation,” Ammons said.
After the accident, Morgan had to return to live with her family and is still struggling to recover from her injuries. She said she always adapts to blind spots and has problems with balance and depth perception, in addition to psychological trauma.
“I couldn’t have taken care of myself like I needed to,” Morgan said.
“Have you lost some of your independence? asked Robert Arnold.
“Yes,” Morgan said. “Nobody wants to be 21 and have, you know, the difficulties that I have to deal with now.”
The case has not yet been scheduled for trial.
A lawyer from Yaklin sent KPRC 2 the following written statement:
“The thoughts and prayers of all of us at Yaklin Automotive Group are with Ms. Morgan and her family as they recover from their injuries. We care deeply about the safety and well-being of all who use and depend on Ford vehicles. Indeed, safety is our primary concern. The airbag that injured Ms. Morgan was a Takata airbag. As is known, Takata airbags installed in tens of millions of cars by Ford and other manufacturers have been the subject of a federal recall. A special restitution fund has been established for this purpose, which we hope Ms. Morgan will benefit from. In the ongoing litigation, we are confident that the correct parties will be held accountable.”
After receiving this statement, we asked Ammons if Morgan had filed a claim with the Restitution Fund. He sent us this statement:
“Sara Morgan has made no claims against a Takata bankruptcy trust. What happened to the businesses, insurance companies and corporations that were willing to admit their mistakes and accept responsibility? We We certainly look forward to being tried and getting justice for Sara Morgan by a Brazoria County jury.
Calls to an attorney representing Ford in this lawsuit and an email to Ford’s media department seeking comment have yet to be returned.
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