The Japanese airbag manufacturing company Takata made headlines again after The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it had plans to take legal control over the company’s airbag recall and repair process.
To date, Takata’s defective airbags have killed eight people and injured nearly 100 after spontaneously rupturing and exploding. More than 23 million defective Takata airbags were installed in over 19 million vehicles between the years 2009 and 2014.
The NHTSA Takes Legal Action
In an unprecedented maneuver, the NHTSA issued two Consent Orders against Takata, stating the company’s defective airbags put the American public in danger. Because of the imminent danger, the NHTSA intervened on the public’s behalf.
In 2000, the NHTSA was awarded permission by the government to impose legal authority over any vehicle manufacturing company whose noncompliance with safety regulations posed an immediate threat to the public. The NHTSA’s civil penalty action against Takata is the first such legal action taken by the administration in its 45-year history.
The Consent Orders require Takata to pay a $200 million fine and to stop manufacturing and distributing airbags that contain an ammonium nitrate propellant, a chemical believed to be responsible for the defective nature of Takata’s airbags.
The NHTSA will also place an official monitor onsite at the Takata manufacturing plant to ensure the company complies with all aspects of the recall process. The NHTSA’s monitor will remain at the plant for five years, tracking and reporting Takata’s compliance with the Consent Orders, as well as overseeing a Coordinated Remedy Program.
A Coordinated Remedy Program is implemented whenever a vehicle product manufacturer requires an excessive amount of replacement parts to meet high recall demand. The program will also ensure vehicles with defective Takata airbags receive new airbags no later than June 2016.
Takata Admits Knowledge of Defects to the NHTSA
After the NHTSA enforced its legal authority over Takata, the Japanese company admitted it was aware their airbags were defective, yet they failed to address the defects or to issue any recalls.
Takata also admitted they had been providing inaccurate or selective information to the NHTSA regarding the safety of their airbags for the past six years. They also admitted to providing incomplete and inaccurate safety data to their customers.
If you were involved in a car accident and were injured by a defective airbag, contact the skilled product liability lawyers at Schmidt Kramer today. We will fight tirelessly to ensure you get the justice and compensation you deserve.