In the first of what could be several legal actions, an attorney for a Quemado resident has filed a lawsuit against Takata accusing the airbag company of transporting dangerous chemicals, which later exploded.
Plaintiff Rene De Los Santos Olveda suffered permanent hearing loss as well as a blast-induced concussion injury, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Maverick County District Court.
The suit filed against TK Holdings, Inc. and Takata de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. also accuses Takata representatives of removing evidence from the blast site and asks that a temporary restraining order is put in place to stop them.
The Houston Attorney who filed the suit said the primary focus at this point is to put a halt on anything being removed from the scene and to gain access to the blast site. "My primary goal at this point is to secure the evidence and start an investigation," said Attorney Mo Aziz.
The lawsuit comes after an 18-wheeler carrying Takata airbag components crashed and exploded in Quemado, TX on August 22, injuring numerous individuals and killing Lucilla Robles, whose home was completely leveled by the blast. Individuals within miles of the blast site took to social media following the explosion, describing their experiences.
Olveda's suit also comes at the same time as a Takata deadly air bag crisis has ballooned into the largest recall in U.S. history.
In May, the company agreed in a deal with auto-safety regulators to recall another 35 million to 40 million air bag inflators, growing the total number to 70 million vehicles. "This is the largest recall in American history," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters at a press conference. "I expect it to go over one hundred million before all the recalls are finished."
Prior to the Quemado incident, eleven deaths had been linked to the defective parts.
“We know from other litigation that Takata has manufactured off-spec ammonium nitrate in the past and shipped it to customers. Ammonium nitrate that is low in density is more susceptible to detonate and is classified as an explosive,” Aziz said. “Disasters such as West, Texas, the Takata airbag fatalities, and now Quemado, Texas highlight the dangers of ammonium nitrate."
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement that the explosion was not a result of the materials being packaged wrong, but rather in connection to the 18-wheeler crashing into Robles' home.
"Initial indicators are that the materials were packaged properly," Eric Weiss, NTSB Media Relations said in a statement. "If the review of documents and other information shows cause to investigate, the NTSB will do so."
NTSB investigators said they are on standby to assist should state officials request the agency’s assistance.
Takata representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.
(© 2016 KENS)