Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in Michigan federal court on Monday in the lawsuit over its allegedly defective airbags. Takata will pay nearly $1 billion for hiding test data and reports on the deadly airbag inflators and will repay those injured by the airbag defect. As reported by CNBC, “the penalties include $850 million in restitution to automakers, $125 million for victims and families, and a $25 million criminal fine.”
In the United States alone, nineteen carmakers recalled the dangerous, purportedly defective Takata airbag inflators, with the total number of airbags recalled worldwide approaching over 100 million. The faulty Takata airbag inflators are blamed for claiming 11 lives in the U.S. and 16 deaths worldwide, and more than additional 180 injuries. “The problem touched off the biggest recall in U.S. automotive history, involving 42 million vehicles and up to 69 million inflators,” reported by ABC News.
The recalled airbags contain an ammonium nitrate propellant that may cause the airbag to explode upon impact in an accident, shooting out metal debris from the casing towards drivers and passengers. Lawsuits brought against Takata charge that the company was aware of the airbag defect a decade ago, after conducting secret tests of the products which revealed dangerous flaws. Instead of alerting regulators of these serious safety risks, Takata allegedly ordered its engineers to delete the negative test data.
A separate lawsuit filed Monday against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and BMW claims the car companies “knew that Takata’s products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive,” noted the Los Angeles Times.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. has also charged three former Takata executives – Hideo Nakajima, Tsuneo Chikaraishi and Shinichi Tanaka – for their alleged roles in concealing the Takata airbag safety hazards since 2000.
The cases are United States of America v. Takata Corp., case number 2:16-cr-20810, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:15-md-02599, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Takata Airbag Recall Lawsuits & Your Legal Rights
Lieff Cabraser represents drivers across the U.S. harmed by these air bag defects in lawsuits against Takata. Nearly 34 million vehicles, most manufactured prior to 2009, have been recalled worldwide due to the problem. This is the largest automotive recall to date in history. These airbags were installed in U.S. and foreign made cars and pickup trucks including in vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and BMW, among others.
Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented persons nationwide injured in accidents due to unsafe cars and components of cars that are defective, obtaining significant recoveries for our clients, as well as obtaining significant recoveries for vehicle owners and other consumers for economic damages from defective or falsely advertised autos and automotive products. Our law firm has been recognized by U.S. News, Benchmark Litigation, Best Lawyers, the National Law Journal, and Law360 as one of the top plaintiffs’ law firms in the nation.
Owners and lessees of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag problems are welcome to contact Lieff Cabraser about safety and value concerns and their legal rights.