06/24/2024

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Destiny Byassee appears inset against an image of an airbag that exploded and allegedly took her life

‘Detonated like a grenade’: Young mom killed by counterfeit airbag that exploded during crash and ‘shot metal and plastic shrapnel’ all over the inside of her car, lawsuit

Main image: An allegedly counterfeit airbag that exploded during a collision (Cathy King complaint); Inset right: Destiny Byassee (Facebook)

A young Florida mom died last year due to a counterfeit airbag that exploded “like a grenade” during a car crash, a recent lawsuit alleges.

Destiny Marie Byassee was 22 years old when she died in a frontal collision while driving a used 2020 Chevy Malibu on June 11, 2023.

“At the time of the collision, Ms. Byassee was a properly restrained driver who was wearing her seatbelt,” the lawsuit filed in Broward County 17th Judicial Circuit Court on May 16 reads.

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    The victim, a mother of two, purchased the Malibu from DriveTime, Tempe, Arizona-based used car and financial services company that operates across the country, according to the lawsuit.

    The filing, however, says the car, a former rental car owned and operated by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, should have never been on the road or sold to anyone in the first place – for at least two reasons.

    “On or about September 24, 2022, the subject Chevy Malibu was involved in a collision that caused the front driver-side airbag and front driver-side seatbelt pretensioner to deploy,” the complaint reads. “The damage to the subject Chevy Malibu from the crash was so significant that the vehicle should have been classified as a total loss, issued a salvage title, and removed from service.”

    Still, the lawsuit says, the Malibu was sold by Enterprise to DriveTime, using Manheim Auctions, Inc., which bills itself as the largest wholesale automobile auctions company in the entire world.

    The complaint is admittedly unclear about when the nearly-totaled Malibu was repaired, but alleges it was repaired at a Hollywood, Florida-based repair shop by the owner/operator sometime before or after DriveTime bought the car. And, the complaint alleges, the mechanic “purchased counterfeit and non-compliant airbag components” to replace the Chevrolet factory airbag “and proceeded to install these components into the subject Chevy Malibu.”

    According to the filing, the counterfeit airbag was manufactured and sold by Jilin Province Detiannuo Safety Technology Company.

    The lawsuit also alleges the deployed seatbelt pretensioner was simply repaired incorrectly. The mechanic allegedly “cut the wires to the seatbelt pretensioner so that the front driver’s seatbelt would release from its deployed position, appear normal, and appear to function as designed and intended to an unwitting consumer.”

    “When DriveTime sold the subject Chevy Malibu to Ms. Byassee, Ms. Byassee had no idea that the vehicle had been improperly and illegally repaired, that the vehicle contained counterfeit and non-compliant airbag components, or that the vehicle’s front driver-side seatbelt pretensioner was disabled and inoperable,” the lawsuit reads.

    The results were disastrous.

    Both the counterfeit airbag and faulty seatbelt pretensioner “were signaled to deploy” during the June 2023 collision, the lawsuit says.

    “However, because the subject Chevy Malibu’s front driver-side seatbelt pretensioner was inoperable, the pretensioner did not deploy as originally designed,” the lawsuit reads. “Worse, because the subject Chevy Malibu’s front driver-side airbag system included counterfeit and non-compliant components, the airbag detonated like a grenade and shot metal and plastic shrapnel throughout the vehicle cabin.”

    The filing contains an image captioned: “Shredded and blood-soaked front driver-side airbag.”

    The lawsuit was filed by Cathy King, Byassee’s grandmother, on behalf of the deceased woman’s estate, husband, two children, and mother.

    The 33-page lawsuit seeks a jury trial on 14 various counts against the various defendants – including strict liability, negligence, and deceptive trade practices – with an unspecified amount of damages.

    According to a report by the Miami Herald, Manheim was the only named defendant to respond to inquiries about the litigation.

    “While this was a tragic event, Manheim is unable to comment on the lawsuit at this time,” the auction house told McClatchy Newspapers.

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    The post ‘Detonated like a grenade’: Young mom killed by counterfeit airbag that exploded during crash and ‘shot metal and plastic shrapnel’ all over the inside of her car, lawsuit first appeared on Law & Crime.