Takata Airbag Linked to Rental Customer Death

A screen shot of Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, at the Senate committee hearing on the Takata air bag recall.
A screen shot of Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, at the Senate committee hearing on the Takata air bag recall.

A woman who died in a Los Angeles-area car crash last September has been named as the eight victim killed by defective airbags made by Takata Corp. Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last week that shrapnel from the exploding airbag caused her death.

The woman, Jewel Brangman, rented a 2001 Civic from Sunset Car Rental in San Diego and was driving in Los Angeles County when the crash occurred. The driver’s airbag inflated with too much force and ejected metal fragments, causing serious injuries that resulted in her death.

Brangman’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Honda, Takata and Sunset Car Rental.

The lawsuit accuses Sunset Rental of renting the vehicle when it knew about the airbag recall but failed to make the repairs. In June 2014, the 2001 Civic was part of a recall issued by Honda and NHTSA for defects and problems in the Takata driver-side frontal airbag system. Sunset Rental never communicated the potentially dangerous condition of the vehicle to Brangman when she rented it, according to the lawsuit.

“Honda confirmed on Friday that the eighth death linked to a faulty airbag occurred last September in California,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) during a Senate committee hearing on the Takata airbag recall. “This was a rental car from Sunset Car Rental in San Diego that never made the repairs after the recall. I along with Sen. Schumer and others have legislation pending that would prohibit a car from being rented at a rental car agency until open safety recalls are remedied.”

Honda said that the 2001 Civic was purchased by Sunset Rental at an auction. According to Honda, it sent notices of the airbag recall to Sunset Rental, but the repair was never made.

“We notified the auto auction that owned the vehicle before the rental car agency bought it and we also notified the rental car agency,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president for Honda North America, at the Senate committee hearing on the Takata airbag recall. “Neither of them took the repair. It’s to our everlasting regret that had an impact in this incident.”


  1. Jason [ July 2, 2015 @ 10:37AM ]

    Great story of how a small mom and pop operation goes out of business.... Very sad for everyone involved...

  2. KRIS [ July 7, 2015 @ 09:58AM ]

    Recalls are a free correction by a dealership. If they had the notice sent to them all they had to do was take it in and fix the problem. I think the rental car company is more blame than Honda or the maker of the airbag since the problem was recognized back in the early 2000's but none of the owners bothered to have it fixed or at least checked. Tragedy happened because the rental car co. gave a vehicle that wasn't safe. Things like this give all rental car companies a bad rep. Some will actually come and swap out a car if a recall is issued while you are renting it. Sometimes it pays to pay a little extra for a big name rental company, if not just for the peace of mind.

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