Did Takata Know About Defects in their Airbags Since 2001?

Takata Corp., the Japanese manufacturer of defective airbags that has led to the recall of millions of vehicles, was sued Monday. Consumers claim that Takata and other carmakers defrauded them by concealing crucial information.

Monday’s lawsuit filed with a U.S. District Court in Florida is believed to be the first in the United States seeking class action status on behalf of consumers across the nation. If that status is granted, Takata could be subjected to a larger payout in a trial or settlement, than if vehicle owners were forced to sue individually.

This federal lawsuit is at least the third suit filed against Takata in the past week over alleged air bag defects. The other lawsuits were filed on behalf of individual owners.

Bloomberg reported that Takata Corp. knew as early as 2001 that manufacturing defects could lead its airbags to explode, U.S. drivers claimed in their lawsuits.

Takata issued a recall 13 years ago related to exploding airbags in Isuzu Motors Ltd. vehicles, according to federal complaints filed Monday in at least two U.S. states. The class action lawsuits allege that at least four deaths and 139 injuries are linked to defective Takata airbags in models sold by various carmakers.

“Takata and Honda repeatedly failed to fully investigate the problem and issue proper recalls, allowing the problem to proliferate and cause numerous injuries and at least four deaths over the last 13 years,” according to a copy of one complaint filed in the Central District of California. Takata “had a duty to disclose these safety issues because they consistently marketed their vehicles as reliable and safe,” the lawsuit stated.

As of last week, approximately 7.8 million people in the U.S. were notified of the defect with General Motors Co. joining Toyota in warning people not to sit in the front passenger seats until repairs can be made.

In a separate lawsuit filed in the Central District of California, another five buyers or leasers of BMW, Honda and Toyota cars claimed their vehicles were unsafe due to faulty Takata airbags. Takata and the carmakers “did not fully investigate or disclose the seriousness of the issue and in fact downplayed the widespread prevalence of the problem,” according to the lawsuit.

Airbags made by Takata have deployed with too much force, spraying passengers with metal shrapnel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged owners of 7-8 million Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Fuji Heavy’s Subaru and Toyota vehicles to immediately replace their air bags. Industry executives will investigate Takata’s choice of explosive chemical compounds used to inflate the airbags, in addition to manufacturing flaws.

In cases where it is believed that an auto defect led to an accident or a safety feature, such as an airbag, failed to work, those hurt may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. In cases where people are killed in these types of accidents, their families may be able to file a lawsuit. Manufacturers of goods must be held responsible when their products put consumers in danger.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury or death as a result of a defective airbag, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.

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