In a massive breach of consumer trust that affected not just residents of Ohio but individuals across the nation, an overseas manufacturer has been selling faulty automobile airbags despite knowing that doing so could — and did — result in injury and death. The company, Takata, reached a deal in early 2017 with the U.S. Department of Justice, in which it agreed to pay $1 billion in fines and restitution to accident victims and automakers; Takata entered a guilty plea in the criminal case, hoping to bring the ongoing investigation to a close. However, court documents filed only recently in the civil product liability lawsuit begun in 2015 against Takata now allege that five auto companies may have been more involved and aware than was initially believed.
These new allegations accuse automotive companies Toyota, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Honda of knowing about the dangerous air bag defects but continuing to use them anyway. Despite the auto companies’ protests to the contrary, these documents claim that the companies have been aware of the dangerous issues for over a decade. Because Takata airbags were cheaper than those of the company’s competitors and because the company was able to produce the items in bulk, the auto manufacturers ignored the safety risks, according to court documents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 11 people died and 180 were injured in the United States because of the faulty airbags. Takata admitted that employees had intentionally falsified or even omitted data that was passed along to automakers, in an attempt to make the air bags seem safer. It is now claimed that the auto companies were aware the air bags were unsafe but also covered up this information themselves to continue using them in vehicle manufacturing; thus, it is alleged the companies should share responsibility for the resulting injuries and deaths.
To date, hundreds of people have been seriously injured or even killed by the very device they believed would protect them. Any residents of Ohio who were injured due to the faulty airbags have the right to contact a personal injury attorney to explore their options. In fact, anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one due to a faulty or dangerous product may benefit from the legal counsel of an attorney with experience in product liability lawsuits.
Source: The Washington Post, “Lawsuit alleges automakers knew of deadly Takata air-bag defects“, Steven Overly, Feb. 27, 2017