• Posted by CERC India
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Mercedes-Benz to cough up Rs. 10 lakh for faulty airbags


Sudhir Trehan, then managing director of CG (Crompton Greaves) Power & Industrial Solutions Ltd., was returning from Nasik to Mumbai after an official trip in 2006. The Mercedes he was travelling in collided with a truck. Sudhir was seriously injured as the airbags did not work. 

Crompton Greaves Ltd., which owned the car, alleged that the airbags suffered from inherent defects in design and did not inflate as the crash sensors failed to register the impact. Mercedes-Benz argued that the “impact was not of sufficient strength” to trigger inflation of airbags and that the side airbags did not get deployed as it was a frontal collision.

The National Commission referred to the owner’s manual which said the airbags would be triggered only if a collision happens at a force ‘exceeding a predetermined level’. However, the ‘predetermined level’ was not disclosed. Highlighting the safety features, including the airbags, for selling the vehicle without such a disclosure constituted “an unfair and deceptive trade practice,” it said.

The Verdict

The Commission directed the car maker to pay Rs. 5 lakh to the owner firm, Crompton Greaves Ltd., for deficiency in services rendered on account of the airbags not having worked. It also awarded Rs. 5 lakh to Crompton Greaves Ltd. for the unfair trade practice indulged in by the car maker and Rs. 25,000 towards litigation costs. The car maker was also asked to provide sufficient information about airbags in the owner’s manual and the website.

Point of law

If a company gives incomplete information while marketing its product, it amounts to unfair trade practice.

[Source: The order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi dated 11September 2017 on Consumer Case no. 51/2006]

Hospital liable if consulting doctor involved is negligent

Shakila Banu, 24, was admitted to Padmini Nursing Home in Chennai in 2003 and a spinal surgery was performed by Dr. K. Chandran. She developed several problems after the surgery – lack of urine and motion sensation, inability to walk, high blood pressure and fits.

A neurospecialist at Apollo Hospital opined that there had been negligence in performing the surgery. Shakila Banu expired in 2007. Her parents filed a complaint before the Chennai District forum against the hospital and surgeon. The hospital contended that it could not be held liable as Dr. Chandran was an independent consultant. Dr. Chandran denied negligence. In fact, he said, Shakila had suffered a cardiac arrest during the surgery and he had saved her life.

When the Forum and later the State Commission dismissed the complaint, Shakila’s parents approached the National Commission. It observed that Shakila was not a high-risk patient and seemed to have suffered the cardiac arrest because of the surgeon’s negligence. As for the hospital, it was liable even though the surgeon was a non-employee.


The Commission held the surgeon and hospital jointly liable and asked them to pay Rs. 10 lakh with 9% interest to Shakila’s parents for loss of life of their daughter and mental agony, and Rs. 10,000 towards litigation costs.

Point of law

A hospital owes a duty to the patient to give proper treatment which may be delegated to a non-employee.

[Source: The order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi dated 1 September 2017 on Revision petition  no.  3881/2014]


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