A class-action lawsuit dating back to 2017 has ended with the High Court denying an appeal from the plaintiff who was seeking damages from Volkswagen for potentially faulty Takata airbags.
The High Court has struck down a class-action appeal, which was seeking to receive compensation from Volkswagen in the wake of the Takata scandal – which resulted in millions of cars being recalled for potentially fatal airbags.
The plaintiff had sought to challenge a previous ruling which determined the risk from the Takata airbags fitted to his Volkswagen was “merely speculative,” according to website Lawyerly.
As reported by Drive in September 2021, the class action against Volkswagen had claimed the Takata airbags – which were fitted to an estimated 100 million cars globally, in models from two dozen brands – were not “fit for purpose” under Australian Consumer Law.
It’s understood Volkswagen had replaced the potentially faulty airbag in the plaintiff’s car in 2019 at no cost to him, as part of a precautionary recall.
The NSW Supreme Court judge concluded the plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit had not reasonably established that the Takata airbag in his Volkswagen had degraded in such a way as to become dangerous – nor had it injured him or failed to inflate – telling the court: “There is thus no evidence, in fact, the airbag in his would not have deployed as intended.”
The judge explained the plaintiff was “only entitled to damages for the loss that he has actually suffered”.
The Supreme Court later ruled the plaintiff and the litigation funder which financed the lawsuit were liable for Volkswagen’s legal defence costs.
In March 2021, government authorities announced more than 4.1 million faulty Takata airbags had been replaced in Australia, across 3.06 million cars – representing 99.9 per cent of vehicles delivered locally with the potentially-deadly airbags.
By November 2022, that figure has increased to 100 per cent – excluding vehicles which had been written off, scrapped, or had been unregistered for more than two years.
It’s estimated 36 people have died around the world – with more than 350 seriously injured – as a result of the Takata airbags, which it was discovered could degrade over time and either rupture or expel shrapnel at the driver or passenger when inflated.
The latest decision by the High Court to refuse the appeal brings the class action – which was first filed in 2017 – to an end.