Takata settles lawsuit over Jacksonville woman's death

Family among five to sue Takata over deaths caused by air bags

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Air bag manufacturer Takata on Friday morning settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a 77-year-old Patricia Mincey.

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but both sides were pleased, according to the family's attorney. A separate lawsuit against Duval Honda is still active.

The suit against Takata claimed that the company concealed the defective nature of its airbag systems from consumers for more than a decade before to the June 2014 accident.

Mincey became paralyzed from the neck down on Father's Day 2014 when the air bags in her 2001 Honda Civic forcefully exploded during a low-speed collision. The air bags were recalled four days later.

At last county, Takata had recalled close to 100 million defective inflators that can explode with too much force, sending shrapnel spewing. Faulty air bags are responsible for 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.

Mincey spent the next two years as a quadriplegic and died earlier this year due to complications of quadriplegia.

Last year, with her mother in a hospital bed, Mincey's daughter told News4Jax that her mother wanted to make sure this didn't happen to anyone else.

"She really wants to be a voice for other people that have been in this situation or may be in this situation, and be an inspiration to them," Kelly Sims said. "She's asked me to help her do that, and I have to."

The case was set for a hearing Friday morning and the judge was informed. Had it proceeded, the trial was scheduled for October.

Ted Leopold, the family's attorney, said the settlement was hammered out over the past couple of days.

"I'm very proud  of the work that we have done in this case to open up the eyes of the consumers, the governmental entities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the OEM manufacturers, who have also been harmed in some respect as a result of these issues," Leopold said.

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News4Jax has learned that there are four other local lawsuits against Takata from people who suffered injuries, including death, facial, arm and neck injuries.

"I think there has been a lot of answers that have been provided through this litigation, by getting the documents, looking at the documents," Leopold said. "At the end of the day, juries make the decisions as to what is proper, what is not proper. This particular case didn't get that far. Whether other cases down the road will get that far, I don't know."

Officials said Mincey's case had a direct bearing on the class-action suit against Takata, and that internal communications unsealed in the lawsuit shed “light on how much top executives in Tokyo knew and directed the company’s response to the mounting deaths and injuries.”

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