Auto parts maker Continental Automotive Systems US, which made the airbags on the 2.6 million cars GM recalled in relation to the defective ignition switch, could be drawn into the lawsuits.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the plaintiffs are seeking to also bring the company into litigation, claiming that Continental’s system had a defect that prompted the airbags to shut off if the key was switched from the on position – with the combination of defects “particularly dangerous.”
The lawsuit was filed in California and is the first to bring the US subsidiary of German automotive supplier Continental AG in the growing list of litigations in relation to GM’s failed recall – related to 13 deaths.
According to the comments in the lawsuit, Continental was the one that made the airbags in the recalled cars, including the sensor that should determine when and if an airbag is deployed in an accident.
“Continental did nothing to redesign its airbags so that they would deploy even if the car’s power went out, nor did it warn NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the public,” a plaintiff’s lawyer said.
David Friedman, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the congressional panel investigating GM said the agency was surprised to find out that airbags do not function if the key is in the “off” or “acc” position and its investigators are now conducting an industry wide investigation.