Takata Corporation has pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to pay over $1 billion in criminal and civil fines in connection with its role in allegedly concealing knowledge of the deadly nature of its airbags. As recently as 2015, Takata Corporation manufactured airbags which could be found in a number of American and foreign-made vehicles including those produced by Acura, BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota. In May 2016, The United States Department of Transportation ordered a recall on all Takata airbags produced between the years 2000 and 2015. The recall is the largest in history and will require Takata to recall airbags in over 170 makes and models from more than 30 car manufacturers.
This recall comes in the wake of a string of deaths and countless injuries resulting from Takata’s faulty airbags. When deployed, these airbags send fragments of shrapnel and metal speeding towards drivers and passengers, in even the most minor of fender benders. To date, there have been many deaths as a result of Takata’s airbags in the United States alone.
Along with the $1 billion fine, three Takata executives, Hideo Nakajima, Tsuneo Chikaraishi, and Shinichi Tanaka, have each been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and wire fraud. Allegedly, the three executives were aware that the airbags presented significant defects as early as the year 2000. Despite this knowledge, Takata Corporation allegedly forged documents and reports to hide the unfavorable results of product testing. Takata then used these reports and findings to contract with major auto manufacturers who bought these dangerous airbags. As a result, nearly 70 million defective airbags were in circulation prior to the 2016 recall.
Unfortunately, far too many corporations act carelessly and attempt to put profits ahead of people. The Takata airbag recall is only one of several examples of preventable auto catastrophes in recent memory. Two other noteworthy product liability examples are the ignition-switch design in General Motors vehicles in 2015 and attempts to cover up acceleration defects by Toyota in 2014.
Fortunately, however, over $900 million of the $1 billion agreement is going to compensate auto manufacturers and individuals who have been injured as a result of Takata’s actions. Despite the progress made in reaching this agreement, many experts believe the true cost of the recall to auto manufacturers could be in the billions. Further, despite the best efforts of the Department of Transportation, Federal safety regulators estimate that it could be as late as 2023 before all Takata airbags are off the streets.
Though significant strides have been made toward removing these faulty products from the general population, countless Americans are still at risk of burn injuries as a result of this corporation’s negligence. If you believe this recall affects you, the first step is to check if your vehicle is one of the hundreds listed for recall. It is important to discuss your legal rights as soon as possible. If you have been injured as a result of a faulty Takata airbag, you may be entitled monetary compensation as part of this agreement. To explore your legal options, contact the experienced product liability attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004.