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1.2.13 Used Cars Sold with Missing Airbags

Airbags are a costly item to replace when a bag has been deployed, is defective, or has been stolen, and the typical consumer may not be able to tell whether an airbag has in fact been replaced. Thus there is a temptation for dealers to sell vehicles without disclosing that an airbag is missing.

  • ● The practice of selling used cars with missing airbags is described in § 2.8, infra.
  • ● Some states have specific statutes dealing with missing airbags. See § 7.5, infra.
  • ● Sale of a used vehicle without disclosure that it is missing an airbag may involve common law fraud, which may lead to punitive damages. See Ch. 8, infra.
  • ● A missing airbag may lead to a claim for breach of warranty against the seller. See § 9.2, infra.
  • ● Sale of a used vehicle without disclosure that it is missing an airbag will violate a state UDAP statute, which will often provide attorney fees, minimum, multiple, or punitive damages, and which may not require proof of the defendant’s intent or knowledge. See § 9.4, infra.
  • ● Fraudulent sale of used vehicles with missing airbags may also violate the federal or state RICO statute. The federal statute provides federal jurisdiction, attorney fees, and treble damages. See § 9.5, infra. The state RICO statute may provide similar remedies in state court. See § 9.6, infra.
  • ● How to litigate a missing airbag case is examined in Chapter 10, infra, including: advising the client, who to sue, what claims to plead, jurisdictional issues, res judicata, class actions, evidentiary issues (such as how to introduce evidence of the defendant’s misconduct against other consumers), trial of the case, damage issues, settlements, attorney fees, and collecting judgments against the defendant, the defendant’s surety, related lenders, and auction companies.