FINAL OUTCOME OF TAKATA AIRBAGS

We wrote at length in the past about the airbag supplier Takata, a Japanese company whose airbags turned into deadly devices killing people instead of saving lives. The airbags would deploy at such speed that the screws and metal used to hold the airbags became a weapon when deployed shooting shrapnel into the passengers of cars when deployed. This defect resulted in many serious injuries and an investigation by Japan and the United States finding Takata covered up the defective airbag disaster and refused to recall the thousands of airbags in many automakers cars.

In May, 2015, automakers, not Takata, added millions of cars to their official lists of models recalled because of dangerous Takata airbags. Fiat and Chrysler added an additional 1.4 million cars globally. Honda added an addition 350,000 Honda vehicles in the United States and BMW added 420,000 vehicles in the United States. Eleven automakers in the U.S. have been caught in the Takata airbag recall.

In an article in USA Today – The Journal News Money Section on May 29, 2015 by Chris Woodyard, points out The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) doubled the number of vehicles included in the Takata recall to 33.8 million automobiles. The NHTSA concluded the airbags are dangerous because in a crash, it sends shards of metal or plastic at drivers and passengers. These airbags have been blamed for 6 deaths in Hondas and the defect is more noticeable in high humidity weather. Honda had previously recalled 350,000 vehicles to fix driver’s side airbags. Now, these same cars are being recalled again to replace the passenger side airbags. BMW found itself in the opposite position of Honda. BMW had previously recalled 381,000 3 series cars made between 2004 & 2006 to replace passenger side airbags. Now, many of the same cars are being recalled again to fix driver’s side airbags. They also added 28,500 5 series sedans from 2002 – 2003 vehicles and 10,500 X5 crossovers for 2003. In October, 2015, NHTSA expanded their probe into exploding airbags. The NHTSA also considered forcing automakers to accelerate repairs of airbags made by Takata. An article in USA Today – The Journal News on October 23, 2015 by Nathan Bomeg pointed out 8 people have been killed in Honda vehicles and injured 98 people. The NHTSA has determined that vehicles have been operated in hot humid climates for at least 5 years are most at risk. The NHTSA has expanded its investigation to include a side airbag inflator that have ruptured in accidents involving GM and Volkswagen vehicles. They have found passenger side airbags are 10 times as likely as driver’s airbag to rupture but less likely to cause death or injuries. The NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind stated that he would make a decision by Thanksgiving on whether to order faster recalls and expand the number of vehicles and manufacturers involved in the recall.

In an article in USA Today – The Journal News on November 4, 2015, by the same author Nathan Bomeg states Takata could face a $200,000,000 fine for the delayed recall of Takata airbags that have killed 8 people and injured 98. The NHTSA will fine Takata at least $70 million and could increase the fine to $200 million if Takata does not adequately comply with a plan to accelerate recalls of defective airbags and eliminate a chemical that may have cause the defect. This fine is the largest civil penalty in NHTSA history. Takata has acknowledged “it was aware of a defect but failed to issue a timely recall”. The NHTSA will also appoint a monitor to oversee Takata’s airbag recall which must be completed about 2 years earlier than previously planned.

Takata we hope, has learned its lesson and an example of how costly and deadly a defective product can be.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a front or side Takata airbag, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 or contact us via e-mail, djrobolaw@aol.com.