Union County man sues car maker claiming defect caused him to lose control of his car

Updated: Nov. 18, 2019 at 5:47 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A new lawsuit filed by a Union County man alleges that a luxury model car has a dangerous defect that could put people’s lives in jeopardy. He says that while he was driving his car, he suddenly couldn’t turn the steering wheel, causing him to crash.

“All of a sudden my car started pulling hard to the right,” John Janpol said. “I was trying to steer to the left to correct it, it was non-responsive to the steering, and I went off the embankment and descended into a parked bulldozer.”

Janpol said this happened while he was driving his 2014 Infiniti Q50, which is manufactured by Nissan.

“I was just scared my heart was racing and I was just saying to myself how could this happen,” Janpol told WBTV.

According to complaints filed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website dozens of other drivers experienced something similar. In total, 62 complaints have been filed specifically regarding the steering of the vehicle.

Michael Nranian is an auto safety expert who’s testified in court. In his opinion, having that many complaints is unusual.

“Here we have a lot of specific complaints related to the drive-by-wire adaptive steering system,” Nranian said.

The 2014 Q50 marketed itself as the first commercially sold car to have steer-by-wire technology or what it called Direct Adaptive Steering.

In his lawsuit Janpol and his attorney, Larry Serbin at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, claim that the DAS was “prone to failure” and that the backup system was too much of a shock for drivers to immediately handle.

“The problem is when it doesn’t work the backup system is essentially like having non-power steering,” Serbin said.

Infiniti issued two recalls on the 2014 Q50 related to steering issues, but Serbin maintains that those did not fix the underlying issue.

“So if you’re driving a 2014 Q50 the same thing that happened to Mr. Janpol could happen to you,” Serbin said.

Infiniti provided WBTV with the following statement.

Infiniti is committed to the overall satisfaction of our clients and their passengers, and their safety is our primary concern. We stand behind our Q50 sports sedan and its available Direct Adaptive steering system. The voluntary service campaigns Infiniti has issued for this system have been to resolve certain situations in rare conditions, and for any NHTSA complaints, we work with the agency to investigate. As for this particular case, we cannot comment as it is pending litigation.

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