FCA Side Curtain Airbag Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed

Side airbag inflatable curtains allegedly should deploy in all rollover crashes.

FCA Side Curtain Airbag Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted in News

— A Fiat Chrysler side curtain airbag class action lawsuit has been dismissed after four plaintiffs claimed Chrysler failed to properly program the side airbag inflatable curtains.

The four owners who sued, David Johnson, Dennis Carnes, Ronald Humes, and Lori Owen, purchased their Chrysler vehicles between 2011 and 2017.

The plaintiffs argue FCA failed to program the side curtain airbags to deploy in every type of rollover crash. But as with many class action lawsuits, the plaintiffs do not claim they were injured by airbag problems and they do not allege their side curtain airbags failed.

The plaintiffs also do not claim their FCA vehicles lack side curtain airbags.

The class action lawsuit says the FCA side airbag inflatable curtain (SABIC) is stored in the roof-rail area above each side window of the vehicle.

The side curtain airbag will launch downward to create a barrier between the occupant and the window to mitigate against occupant ejection. The side airbag will also reduce head injuries.

The class action lawsuit alleges all the vehicles are not as safe as they could be because FCA programmed the side curtain airbags not to deploy in “slow-developing rollover crashes.”

Chrysler programmed the side inflatable curtain airbags based on the “the risk of injury to out-of-position occupants—i.e., occupants who are not upright, front-facing, and restrained—in a [slow developing rollover crash] would exceed the benefits that a deployed [SABIC] would provide[.]”

It's not known if any of the owners who sued are automotive engineers, but those plaintiffs say Chrysler was wrong and made a "wrongheaded conclusion" about the side airbags.

According to the plaintiffs, they would not have purchased their vehicles, or they would have paid less for them, had they known about the “deployment defect.”

FCA Side Airbag Inflatable Curtain Lawsuit Dismissed

The judge dismissed the airbag lawsuit by agreeing with FCA that the plaintiffs, "have not suffered an injury-in-fact because the vehicles work exactly as programmed and because FCA was clear that a vehicle’s airbags would only deploy as necessary."

Judge Laurie J. Michelson notes how the plaintiffs say they have never suffered any injuries, yet the plaintiffs still believe the side curtain airbags increase the risk of death or injury to the occupants.

The judge also found the plaintiffs failed to allege FCA deprived them of the benefit of their bargain by making misrepresentations or omissions about how the side airbags deploy.

"Crucially, none of the statements listed in the complaint say anything at all about when the SABICs would deploy or suggest that they would deploy in all rollover crashes. In fact, FCA was explicit that a vehicle’s airbags would deploy as (and if) necessary. Plaintiffs received what they were promised." — Judge Michelson

Although the plaintiffs repeatedly claim their Chrysler vehicles are unsafe and the side inflatable airbags are “defective,” the judge found the airbags work exactly as intended and designed.

"In sum, Plaintiffs could not have purchased their vehicles based on any promises that the SABICs would deploy in all rollover crashes because FCA made no such promises. Instead, FCA was clear that a vehicle’s airbags would only deploy as (and if) needed." — Judge Michelson

The Chrysler side curtain airbag class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division): Johnson, et al., v. FCA US, LLC.