Is Honda Liable in Takata Airbag Scandal?

The Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has been in the headlines for the last few years over potentially lethal defects in its products than can unexpectedly explode. However, four big carmakers are also the subject of a lawsuit that claims they knew about the issue and tried to hide it. The action raises a question about whether Honda, in particular, is involved.

A class action lawsuit in Florida claimed Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota manipulated safety data to conceal this defect.

The auto industry has been hit by a series of defective products standards in recent years. None of them are larger than the Takata scandal. The number of vehicles recalled exceeded 70 million worldwide.  The Takata issue affects numerous makes of automobile.

At least 11 people have been killed and more than 100 injured by Takata airbags. The airbags have ruptured violently when cars were involved in accidents – even minor fender benders – sending shrapnel into motorists. The problem is experienced in states with high humidity levels.

 

In the past, the car manufacturers have been depicted as being victims of a rogue manufacturer. However, the new lawsuit claims some of the carmakers were aware of the dangers years ago.

The new lawsuit was filed shortly before Takata pleaded guilty under a deal last month. The company admitted wire fraud for providing false data. Federal prosecutors charged three Takata executives with fabricating test data. The company was fined $1 billion.

The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit objected to Takata’s plea deal that it alone was culpable. Kevin Dean, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, filed an objection, reported the New York Times.

Drivers of Honda cars suffered the most injuries from Takata airbags. The plaintiffs claim the Japanese carmaker was involved in developing a propellant or explosive that was used in the safety feature as long ago as 1999 and 2000.

The propellant in question is housed in a steel holder called the inflator, that can rupture sending sharp, fast-moving metal fragments into drivers or passengers.

The legal filing said Honda advocated a propellant with inherent problems despite objections from Takata. Honda did not start recalling cars due to the defect until 2008.

Injuries Suffered from Takata Airbags

The New York Times report described Randi Johnston, a 26-year-old from Utah. She was injured in 2015 when an airbag on her Honda Civic ruptured. The shards severed the woman’s vocal cords. She is only able to speak in a whisper after the accident. Johnson has joined the new class action against Honda.

Some very serious injuries have been caused by exploding airbags. It’s horrific to think a piece of equipment that is meant to protect motorists can harm them in such a fundamental way.

At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we help people who have been injured by defective products such as cars or dangerous drugs. See our resources here or call (757) 455-0077.

Bill O'Mara

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