Takata, the Japan-based manufacturer of automobile airbags is being fined
by the U.S. government for refusing to cooperate with the investigation
into faulty airbags by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The fines being assessed amount to $14,000 per day, or the maximum of
$7,000 per day for violation of two NHTSA orders. Takata officials strongly
deny the accused lack of cooperation, saying "
We are surprised and disappointed...and we strongly disagree with their
characterization that we have not been fully cooperating." In addition to the daily fines, the NHTSA plans to sanction the
company further through:
- Rather than submitting written replies as it has done in the past, the
NHTSA will require Takata executives to appear in person to answer questions;
- Takata's S. headquarters as well as their testing facility at Auburn
Hills, MI will be subject to short notice inspections;
- A preservation order will be issued which requires Takata to make parts
which are currently under investigation available for testing to plaintiffs
in the lawsuits against Takata as well as to automakers and the NHTSA, and
- If Takata continues to refuse to cooperate, the NHTSA will ask the Justice
Department to sue the company in federal court.
Six Deaths Linked to Takata Airbags
At least six deaths and dozens of injuries are related to the Takata airbags,
which can deploy explosively, sending metal shards throughout an automobile's
interior. Takata claims only those airbags in areas of extremely high
humidity may forcefully deploy and has refused to recall cars with Takata
airbags. Despite Takata's refusal to issue a recall, the automobile
manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to recall all vehicles which
may have faulty Takata airbags. Thus far, more than 17 million vehicles
have been recalled; however, at the end of December, 2014, only about
2 million had been repaired because of the short supply of replacement
parts. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, announced the fines,
stating safety was a shared responsibility and Takata's failure to
cooperate with the investigation "
is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
Takata Denies Claims They are Not Cooperating Fully
Takata executives claim they have provided the agency with nearly 2.5 million
pages of documents thus far. Takata insists they have maintained regular
communication with the NHTSA and have met regularly with NHTSA engineers
in order to identify the issue with the defective airbags. The NHTSA claims
the 2.5 million pages of documents were delivered with no guide or explanation
of the content. If Takata continues to stonewall the NHTSA, the fines
could exceed $5.1 million in little more than a year.
Honda Vehicles Contain the Highest Number of Takata Airbags
Most of the affected cars are Hondas, and all of the confirmed deaths occurred
in Honda cars. According to medical examiners, the six people killed by
the Takata airbags looked as though they had been shot or stabbed multiple
times. Honda received a $70 million fine in January for its failure to
report all pertinent accident information required by the NHTSA. Only
a few of the more than 1,700 accidents which were not properly reported
involved Takata airbags. The $14,000 per day fines NHTSA has hit Takata
with are double what General Motors was given last year for failing to
answer questions related to some GM vehicles with potentially deadly ignition
switches. Takata employees could be deposed it the company continues to
balk at answering questions and assisting in the airbag investigation.
Honda just recently expanded its recall of vehicles to include another
105,000 with defective Takata airbags. This brings the number of recalled
Honda vehicles with Takata airbags to more than 5.5 million. Unfortunately,
only a small percentage-12percent-of those vehicles recalled have been
brought in by consumers to be fixed. Taking the 12 percent of the cars
that have been repaired out of the mix, approximately 15 million people
continue to drive around with a potentially lethal airbag. In addition,
they are now driving around vehicles that have lost value, due to these
In Japan, the nearly 70 percent of the three million recalled cars have
been repaired. This much larger number is attributed to the country's
tighter inspection requirements and "notoriously fastidious consumers."
Honda backed a bill which would require car owners to complete recalls
in order to renew their registrations as a means of forcing Americans
to have the faulty airbags replaced. Takata continues to produce 450,000
replacement inflators every month and will increase that amount to 900,000
Contact Our National Product Liability Attorneys at (215) 278-4449
Golomb & Honik, P.C. is currently litigating class action lawsuits
against air bag manufacturer Takata Corporation and is helping affected
individuals. We believe that owners of affected vehicles are now in possession
of a car with diminished value and have expended large amounts of money
due to Takata's failure to replace the defective air bags.
Contact us today for more information.