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The Takata Airbag Recall

Takata is a Japanese manufacturer and one of the world's biggest suppliers of airbags. Lately, Takata has been in the news because of a massive recall necessitated by its defective airbags. The airbags have defective inflator and propellant devices which deploy improperly and shoot metal fragments and/or chemicals into the occupants of the vehicle. The defective parts are particularly dangerous in cars in hot, tropical areas, since extended exposure to high heat and humidity may trigger an airbag explosion. Because Takata supplies so many different car makers with its airbags, the recall spreads across many car models, years, and countries of origin and sale. To gain perspective on the magnitude of the recall, consider the following: 16 million vehicles from eleven automobile makers, all containing Takata airbags, have been recalled worldwide; this is roughly five times the number of vehicles recalled by General Motors for the deadly ignition switch defect.

The history of the defective airbags is just as staggering as the recall. Honda, the first automaker to use Takata's newly designed airbags, and Takata knew about the faulty inflator since 2004 when an injury occurred. Honda failed to report the defect to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and failed to issue a recall. More injuries occurred in 2007, but Honda entered into confidential settlements with claimants. By not disclosing the terms of the settlement--or the claims--other automakers with Takata airbags were not put on notice of the defective inflator. In addition, no safety recall was issued.

It was not until an injury in 2008 that Honda notified the NHTSA of the defective inflators and issued its first safety recall. However, according to the NHTSA, Honda simply filed the standard form each time an injury or death occurred, listing the defective component as an airbag but failing to elaborate on how it was defective (exploding metal shards), or how widespread the defect was (millions of cars). It wasn't until 2011 that Honda reported its defective airbag-related death and injury totals. This deceptive reporting to the NHTSA led to inadequate recalls, which in turn led to more injuries and deaths.

Honda may not be the only company engaging in deceptive practices. Takata, the Tokyo-based manufacturer that supplied all of the defective airbags, has known of the faulty design for almost a decade and has not pushed for a recall of cars with its product. Takata already has a history of corruption; in 2013, three executives pled guilty to participating in a seatbelt price-fixing conspiracy involving vehicles sold in the United States. The three executives received prison sentences in the United States. The NHTSA has recently announced that it will investigate Takata for its role in the deaths and injuries due to the defective airbags.

If you need more information regarding the recall, or if you or someone you know has been injured due to a defective airbag, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm.

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Thomas Law Firm
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