Parents of man allegedly killed by Pontiac's defective airbag sue GM and auto dealership

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 7, 2018

Airbag System   Courtesy of

PHILADELPHIA – The parents of a man allegedly killed by a Pontiac Grand Prix’s defective airbag in a fiery automobile collision nearly two years have filed suit against both manufacturer General Motors and the dealership that sold the car.

Samuel E. Gabriele and Catherine M. Gabriele (administrators of the Estate of Stephen Gabriele) of Levittown first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on July 13 versus General Motors and Faulkner Buick GMC of Feasterville.

“On July 31, 2003, Faulkner sold to plaintiffs the aforesaid 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix automobile involved in the collision. On Oct. 15, 2016, Gabriele was in lawful possession of the aforesaid vehicle and was operating it southbound on West Philadelphia Avenue at or around Tyburn Road in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania when it traveled down an embankment off the road and against a large tree. The aforesaid vehicle caught fire after it came to rest, resulting in Gabriele’s death from smoke and soot inhalation during a period of unconsciousness when his head hit the steering wheel, because the airbag failed to deploy,” the suit says.

“Subsequent to the aforesaid incident, Falls Township Police Department had the vehicle towed to Rob’s Automotive of Levittown, where it continues to be stored. GM, on numerous occasions, inspected the vehicle at Rob’s as part of its crash investigation and on other occasions inspected the vehicle for its own purposes relating to crashworthiness data retrieval, particularly in fire-based situations. GM requested and received from Rob’s the assistance of a tow truck to stand by in order to move and/or lift the vehicle for GM’s inspections,” the suit states.

Per the litigation, GM failed to cover the costs of the tow truck to Rob’s Automotive and subsequent storage costs there, plus allegedly built and installed a driver’s side airbag system that was of a defective design and/or that was defectively-manufactured, assembled and/or installed, which made it unsafe and unfit for its intended purpose, failed to warn drivers of that defective feature and sold a vehicle with that same defect.

In preliminary objections to the complaint filed on Aug. 23, defense counsel stated the plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages, fraud and deceit and unjust enrichment were incorrectly and insufficiently-pled.

For counts of survival, wrongful death – product liability, vicarious liability, negligence, and punitive damages, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

The plaintiff is represented by Craig A. Sopin in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Monica V. Pennisi of Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180600805

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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