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Subaru Must Face Lawsuit Tying An Outback Neck Injury To A Minor Accident

A woman claims her 2011 Subaru Outback airbag "forcefully" deployed, injuring her spine and neck. The Court rules Subaru must face a lawsuit tying the severe airbag injury in the Outback to a minor crash.


Subaru of America and Subaru Indiana Automotive (SIA) must complete a class-action lawsuit involving the Subaru Outback. The lawsuit filed in December 2020 involves a Virginia woman who claims to have been injured when the airbag in her 2011 Subaru Outback deployed after she was involved in a minor accident.

A report by Bloomberg Law says Subaru's motion to dismiss the case was denied again by James P. Jones, U.S. District Judge in Virginia, and says the Outback owner can proceed with the lawsuit. Jones said, "Rebecca James' warranty, negligence, and failure-to-warn allegations, though not detailed, are sufficient to put Subaru and SIA on notice of her defect claims."

Subaru Outback serious neck injury lawsuit

A report from Law360 says the Court ruled James has met the minimum pleading standards and doesn't need to prove anything at this stage of her lawsuit. On Thursday, the court order says Subaru overstated how detailed James' product liability lawsuit is currently required.

Rebecca James is represented by attorneys Woods Rogers PLC, Roanoke, Virginia. James claims she was driving her 2011 Subaru Outback in Tazewell County, Virginia, and while making a right turn, the right front fender of the vehicle made contact with a tree adjacent to the road. The "brush with the tree" caused only minor damage to the fender and posed no risk of harm to James.

Subaru Outback serious neck injury lawsuit

The court record says that after the vehicle contacted the tree, James could correct the vehicle's direction and bring it to a stop in the right lane. Although the car had only lightly touched the tree, the vehicle's driver-side curtain airbag "forcefully" deployed, striking the woman on the upper left side of her body injuring her cervical spine and neck.

James alleges that such a minor accident was foreseeable to Subaru Corporation and Subaru Indiana Automotive, where the Outback SUV is manufactured. The brief, non-dangerous contact should not have triggered the airbag's deployment in the Outback.

The court records say James claims there is a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, negligence, and failure to warn customers of the airbag issue. James seeks $12.5 million in damages.

Denso International America and Denso Manufacturing Tennessee, which makes airbag parts for Subaru, has been removed as defendants leaving Subaru of America and Subaru of Indiana Automotive as the remaining defendants in this case.

Should Subaru Outback owners be concerned?

The Outback incident seems to be an isolated case, and Torque News could not find any other complaints with the Subaru Outback airbags causing injury in a minor accident. The only complaints registered with the NHTSA are retailers exceeding a reasonable amount of time for the industry-wide Takata airbag recall repair.

The Virginia court rules Subaru must move forward with the lawsuit tying a severe neck and spine injury in the Outback SUV to a minor crash. Stay tuned for any new information on the James vs. Subaru of America Outback airbag case, and when it becomes available, Torque News will cover it.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Marty (not verified)    March 5, 2022 - 8:23PM

12.5 million!!! Seems a bit fishy. No other claims or issues of any outback airbags like this. I don’t know about this one. I’d like to know the outcome of this when it’s all said and done.