The National Highway Transportation Board (NTSB) recently slapped Japanese airbag maker Takata with a $70 million fine for failing to alert regulators to defects in its airbags. To date, defective Takata airbags have killed at least eight and severely wounded over 100 people.
The defective Takata airbags inflate with an explosive compound called ammonium nitrate. NTSB tests indicate that if the chemical inside the metal airbag housing becomes unstable the airbags may inflate too rapidly and cause the canister housing to explode, sending deadly metal shrapnel flying into faces and chests of vehicle occupants.
Takata faces a record $130 million fine should the embattled company fail to live up to the terms of a consent order handed down by the NTSB. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote in the consent order that Takata manipulated data, delayed cooperation, and refused to take responsibility for its actions.
Auto maker Honda, one of Takata’s biggest customers, is cutting ties with the airbag maker in the wake of the NTSB’s announcement. Honda representatives acknowledged Takata was not forthcoming during federal hearings, actions the Japanese automaker could not stand behind.
Takata faces fines and possible criminal investigation from the Justice Department and a torrent of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits from victims injured by the exploding airbag inflators. The airbag maker also is grappling with how to retrofit the 19 million U.S. vehicles equipped with its deadly airbags. Since revelations about Takata’s deadly airbags came to light a year ago, less than 25% of all cars containing defective Takata airbags have been replaced.
The product liability attorneys of The Cochran Firm, D.C. continue to closely monitor the defective Takata airbag situation. Our firm believes power entities like large auto manufacturers should be held accountable for their careless actions which harm ordinary people. If you or a loved one were hurt by an exploding Takata airbag, contact one of our attorneys for your free legal consultation.