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December 29, 2011

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Traffic death not car's fault, GM says

SHANGHAI General Motors went to court yesterday to appeal after losing a lawsuit over a car accident that killed a man in Jiangsu Province last year.

The man's family blamed a "severe defect" in a Cadillac for the man's death. The car maker was ordered to pay more than 400,000 yuan (US$63,234) compensation to the family of Han Dazhong, after losing the first trial earlier last month in a Pudong New Area court.

None of the six airbags in the car deployed during the accident - where the Cadillac rear-ended a truck in November 2010. Han, who was seated next to the driver, was killed due to head injures and three others were injured. Han bought the car, a Cadillac SLS, in July last year for 415,000 yuan.

During yesterday's appeal in the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court, a GM representative insisted that "there's no direct proof that linked the death to the undeployed airbag."

The company also denied the car had quality problems, saying the airbags did not pop out because what happened in the accident "did not meet the deployment conditions."

Whether or not airbags deploy is related to speed, crash magnitude and angles, said the company.

Xu Cuiying, Han's mother, and other family members charged that the failure was a severe safety problem that directly caused Han's death.

"How could a customer figure out all the conditions needed to use an airbag before an accident suddenly occurred?" asked Qin Jianming, the lawyer representing the family.

Qin pointed out a recent worldwide recall of another model of Cadillac that involved airbags. The car maker confirmed that the right-hand passenger airbag will not open in a crash if there is no passenger in the front seat.

GM called for a further investigation into the accident and asked to inspect the airbags and the data recorded when the crash happened.

Traffic police ruled that each vehicle should assume 50 percent responsibility.

The car drove at 60 to 80 kilometers per hour and the truck was parked illegally alongside the road. Han did not wear a seatbelt, said police.


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