Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Nov 05, 2015 in Product Liability
The defective Takata airbag saga has broken several records since it was first revealed that the airbags produced by the manufacturer can explode violently, spraying shards of metal throughout a vehicle. The defect is linked to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.
What quickly became the largest auto recall in U.S. history has now received the largest civil penalty in the history of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For the first time, the regulator will also use its full authority to accelerate recall repairs.
NHTSA Issues Two Consent Orders
The first of two consent orders issued to Takata this week imposes a record penalty of $200 million and requires that the manufacturer phase out the sale of inflators using an ammonium nitrate propellant, which has been linked to the violent explosions.
Of the $200 million fine, $70 million must be paid in cash. The additional $130 million must be paid if Takata fails to meet its commitments or additional violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act are discovered.
Takata violated the act when it admitted that it knew about the defective product, but did not issue a recall in a timely manner. Takata also provided incomplete, selective and inaccurate data to the NHTSA dating as far back as 2009.
A second order directs Takata and the 12 auto manufacturers involved in the recall to prioritize their recall fixes based on risk and puts in place a deadline by which all repairs need to be completed. The auto manufacturers must have all replacement parts on hand by March 2016 and be completed with all repairs by the end of 2019.
The NHTSA will also oversee the supply of replacement parts and will manage future recalls with the assistance of an independent third-party monitor.
Automakers Dropping Takata
This week Honda Motor Company also made a major announcement, stating that it will no longer use Takata airbags in in its Honda or Acura vehicles due to the manufacturers misrepresentation and manipulation of test data. Additional Japanese auto makers are also signaling that they may follow in Hondas footsteps.
When large manufacturers put the lives of their consumers at risk, they should be held accountable for their actions. The product liability lawyers at Stephens, Anderson & Cummings strive to do just that by defending the rights of the injured.
If you have been injured by a defective Takata airbag or any other defective product, do not hesitate to contact our offices for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.