NHTSA Issues $200 Million Penalty to Takata for Defective Airbags, Orders Recall Speedup
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Nov 04, 2015 in Industry News
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced it would be fining Takata Corporation, manufacturer of automotive airbags, up to $200 million for violating safety regulations and failing to report defects. They are also ordering a recall speedup of the defective airbags and requiring the company to take additional safety compliance measures.
The civil penalty is the largest in the history of the NHTSA and the greatest exercise of their legal authority to regulate the auto industry.
The airbag problem is linked to Takatas ammonium nitrate inflator, which can explode and shoot small shrapnel-like fragments into drivers and passengers. The defective airbags have killed seven people and injured over 100.
Takata first issued a recall in 2008 to reduce the risk of overly forceful deployment of the bags. However, the New York Times reported that the company knew about the problem since 2004. With over 34 million vehicles affected, it has now become the largest defective product recall in history.
The NHTSA also charged Takata with failing to notify the agency of the defect in a timely fashion and using misleading or inaccurate information in their reports. The charges of a cover-up have also caused Honda to drop Takata as a supplier for its airbags.
As part of the latest in this ongoing saga, Takata did admit to not notifying the agency and not providing accurate data, after years of denying a problem even existed. Several employees at Takata have been fired over the debacle.
Of the potential $200 million in fines, $70 million must be paid up front. The remaining $130 million will be fined if Takata fails to complete its recall by Dec 31, 2018, and if they are caught violating any other safety regulations in the near future.
The NHTSA is also ordering a third-party oversight of Takatas operations to ensure they are complying with all safety regulations. Specifically, they are barred from using ammonium nitrate inflators. They are also required to take several steps to improve their internal safety evaluation processes.
This announcement also represents an unprecedented exercise of the NHTSAs authority. This is the first time in the agencys history they are taking such direct measures in ordering a recall.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective Takata airbag, you may be able to receive compensation. The Edwards Law Firm has been reviewing claims against Takata Corp. and can provide legal assistance to you. Contact us today. We will fight for your justice.