Takata Airbag Recall Fine
Written by Faith Anderson on November 5, 2015
Landmark $200 Million Fine Levied Against Takata for Faulty Airbags
Japanese parts manufacturer Takata faces what federal regulators are calling a historic $200 million fine for problems with its airbags installed in more than 30 million vehicles in the United States, which are prone to overinflate and explode, posing a risk of serious injury or death for vehicle occupants. If you were involved in an incident where a Takata airbag overinflated and exploded, causing serious injury or death to a driver or passenger, contact a reputable product liability lawyer today for legal help. You may have grounds to file a Takata airbag lawsuit against the manufacturing company, in order to pursue financial compensation for your losses.
Takata Fined by Safety Administration
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a consent order filed against Takata Holdings on November 3, sets forth the penalties and requirements that Takata has agreed to in connection with the company’s alleged failure to comply with federal regulations in manufacturing its airbags. The consent order, which also requires the company to speed up repairs on defective Takata airbags, comes after at least seven deaths and 100 injuries have been reported in connection with defective airbag inflators, and could require Takata to pay up to $200 million in fines – $70 million now and $130 million if the company fails to meet the requirements of the consent order.
Faulty Airbags Recalled by Takata
The Takata airbag recall affects more than 30 million vehicles in the United States made by 10 different car manufacturing companies, including Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors. The defective airbag inflators were mostly installed in vehicles from model year 2002 to 2008, although the recall has been extended through model year 2014, in some cases. Some of the recalled airbags have deployed explosively and resulted in horrific injuries, including instances where metal shards penetrated the face and neck of drivers and passengers. In June 2015, Takata reported that it was aware of 88 incidents in total, 67 on the driver’s side and 21 on the passenger’s side, and reports have put the number of injuries and fatalities caused by the faulty airbag inflators at about 100 and seven, respectively.
Takata Knew About Defective Inflators
In the aftermath of the Takata airbag recall, the Japanese parts manufacturer admitted that it knew about the faulty airbag inflators, but failed to warn consumers or federal regulators in a timely manner. “For years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers or the public,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a recent press release. “The result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history. Today’s actions represent aggressive use of NHTSA’s authority to clean up these problems and protect public safety.”
According to the consent order, Takata must discontinue the manufacture and sale of airbag inflators that use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant, and must also recall any vehicles with airbags that use the propellant, or else show how and why the airbags are safe. Takata will also be subjected to a five-year oversight plan, in which an independent monitor will ensure that the company is adhering to the requirements of the consent order. Failure to do so will activate the remaining $130 of the NHTSA fine, in addition to the $70 million that is to be paid by the manufacturing company immediately.
Airbag Repairs Lagging Due to a Lack of Parts
Despite the potential for recalled Takata airbags to overinflate and explode, possibly resulting in serious injury or even death for drivers and vehicle occupants, the NHTSA reports that only 22.5% of the defective airbags have been repaired. With this new consent order, the hope is that the rate of repairs will be accelerated. “Today, we are holding Takata responsible for its failures, and we are taking strong action to protect the traveling public,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in the press release. “We are accelerating Takata recalls to get safe airbags into American vehicles more quickly, ensuring that consumers at the greatest risk are protected, and addressing the long-term risk of Takata’s use of a suspect propellant.”
At the same time as the consent order, the NHTSA announced a Coordinated Remedy order designed not only to speed up the recalled airbag repairs, but also to ensure that the recalls are prioritized so that the airbags most likely to overinflate and explode are repaired first. The NHTSA has ordered Takata and car manufacturing companies to repair the highest risk airbags by March 2016, and to have the parts and plans to repair the remaining recalled airbags by the end of 2019. According to the Takata airbag recall, the airbags at the highest risk for exploding are those in older vehicles and those operated in high humidity areas.
Lawsuits Filed Over Defective Airbag Injuries, Deaths
In addition to fines from the NHTSA, Takata faces a growing number of lawsuits filed against the parts manufacturer on behalf of consumers who suffered severe injuries or lost loved ones due to the company’s exploding airbags. As of February 2015, all Takata airbag lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country were centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Even as consumers pursue compensation from Takata for its recalled airbags, the NHTSA has reported manufacturing problems with newer Takata airbags that are also prone to exploding.
Contact a Knowledgeable Takata Airbag Attorney Today
According to the latest NHTSA safety recall, airbag inflators manufactured at Takata’s facility in Monclova, Mexico “may have been improperly stamped and/or contain a defect in the material used to manufacture the airbag inflator’s metal housing,” which may cause the airbags to deploy explosively. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a recalled Takata airbag, or another potentially defective automotive part or consumer product, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers harmed by defective and unreasonably dangerous products, and can help put you in touch with an attorney who has experience handling defective airbag claims.