A product liability lawsuit involving defective seatbelts in Mitsubishi vehicles is going to trial in a Florida court tomorrow against Japanese auto maker, Mitsubishi Motors. According to a Yahoo! article the lawsuit says the seatbelt in a 2001 Montero sport utility vehicle, designed to introduce 10 inches of slack during an auto accident, led to the death of Scott Laliberte, a 25-year-old college student, in a Sept. 24 accident.
Laliberte was actually a passenger in that SUV and wearing his seatbelt. But when the crash occurred, he was ejected from the vehicle through the rear window. His head was crushed against the vehicle and ground when the SUV went out of control and rolled over, the lawsuit states. While his seatbelt was designed to give slack, the driver’s side seatbelt was not made that way. The driver, in this incident, got away with barely a scratch, the article said.
Mitsubishi Motors has consistently been accused of systematically covering up their product defects without issuing recalls in spite of complaints involving numerous accidents, injuries and fatalities. In fact, just this week, the auto maker recalled 7,340 Endeavor SUVs because the right side lower seatbelt anchor may break off during a severe crash.
Such breakage would result in the seatbelt basically not working and causing critical injuries to the vehicle’s occupants, according to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials. For more information on this recall, Endeavor owners may call Mitsubishi at 800-222-0037 or NHTSA at 888-327-4236.
In 2000, the company reportedly admitted to hiding defects in its vehicles for years that they had known about and secretly repairing them without issuing proper recalls. Mitsubishi officials have also been accused of professional negligence in connection with two fatal crashes in Japan.
Most auto makers have been guilty of hiding or denying one product defect or the other over the decades and apparently, Mitsubishi Motors is no exception. Their defective seatbelt has obviously hurt many people. But consider the heart break this particular family in Florida has suffered as a result of the company’s inclination to hide a product defect to protect their reputation and avoid a financial loss. Had they properly dealt with their product defect, this family may not have lost a young member who had his whole life ahead of him.
Product liability cases have a significant role in our society, which might sometimes be minimized or mocked because of a few frivolous lawsuits. Product liability lawsuits hold manufacturers responsible for the products they put on the market – be it vehicles, drugs or toys. A product must be taken off the market or recalled as soon as a defect is discovered. One life is still too many and one serious injury is still too many. Mitsubishi had absolutely no excuse to withhold information about its defective products from the public. Eventually, it is the unsuspecting consumer who pays the ultimate price for such inexcusable professional negligence.