Class action lawsuits have been filed against the automobile equipment manufacturer Takata and Honda Motor Co. in connection with the issues involving the Takata’s defective airbag inflator. The inflator has caused deaths in five cases in the U.S., due to the inflator exploding and spraying metal shards at the driver or passengers.
In addition to the class actions filed against the company, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called for an expanded recall of all vehicles that have been equipped with the defective inflators.
NHTSA had previously requested that the airbag recall focus on cars in high-humidity areas, as high-humidity has been seen as a potential cause of the deadly explosions. The company may have difficulty supplying sufficient replacement parts for the defective device, and with the latest recall adding millions of additional vehicles, that concern has grown.
The class action lawsuit alleges that Takata knew of the defect after an accident in 2004, but the company dismissed that accident and according to the lawsuit complaint, they found the defect in their tests, but then ordered their engineers to destroy all evidence of the tests.
The lawsuit alleges millions of Honda owners have seen the values of their vehicle fall, as the recall, which began in a limited fashion in 2008. A safety executive from Takata is set to testify in front of Congress to explain why the recall has taken more than six years.
Congress has also been concerned about the performance of NHTSA, which apparently failed to investigate the problems with the airbag and did little to encourage a recall by Honda or Takata.
In addition to helping class members recover some of the value they have lost, the class action will likely increase the pressure on the company to resolve these issues before any more motorists are killed by a defective airbag.
Wsj.com, “Pressure Mounts on Takata Amid Air-Bag Recall Crisis,” Yoko Kubota, November 19, 2014