October 11, 2001 - Japan's Mitsubishi Motors sued for alleged air bag defect

The family of a 36-year-old housewife filed a damages lawsuit Thursday against Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp., saying an alleged faulty air bag resulted in her death in a car accident. The family brought the suit in Kyoto District Court, in western Japan, demanding 79 million yen (658,000 dollars) in damages, Mitsubishi Motors said. The housewife, whose name was withheld, was driving a Mitsubishi-made TownBox Wide van in Kameoka of Kyoto prefecture in April last year when it entered an opposite lane and collided head-on with a truck.

The plaintiffs argue her 10-year-old son was only slightly hurt with the air bag at the front passenger's seat working properly, but the woman died of head injuries after her air bag allegedly failed to pop open. Mitsubishi Motors declined to comment, saying it was yet to receive a formal statement from the plaintiffs.

Last year Mitsubishi was mired in scandal after confessing in August it had failed to inform authorities about at least 64,000 customer complaints over faulty vehicles since 1977. It opted to repair the vehicles itself instead of issuing costly model-wide recalls. The TownBox was not among the vehicles involved in the scandal.

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