A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court alleging that Japanese auto supplier Takata Corporation supplied Honda, GM, Toyota, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Mazda car manufacturers with potentially defective airbags that may rupture on activation, spraying shrapnel at drivers and passengers. The lawsuit has been brought against Takata, as well as a host of auto manufacturers whose vehicles may contain the potentially defective airbags.
Our law firm is also investigating a TRW airbag control unit lawsuit, after reports that the units may fail to sense a crash, causing the airbags not to deploy.
Takata airbags recalled
Nearly 8 million vehicles equipped with the airbags have been recalled in parts of the United States. The number of recalled vehicles may continue to rise as reports of injuries and deaths resulting from exploding airbags continue to surface, some as recently as October 17, 2014. To date, the alleged defect has been linked to four deaths and over 140 injuries in the U.S.
According to the New York Times, the recalled airbags allegedly rupture, causing them to explode when activated. The rupturing has been linked to the propellant inside the airbag’s metal inflator, which is intended to burn slowly, causing the airbag to inflate on impact. In extreme circumstances, the allegedly faulty propellant burns aggressively, causing the inflator to explode and shoot metal fragments through the airbag’s fabric at drivers and passengers.
The class action lawsuit follows an investigation into Takata airbags launched by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) in June. The NHTSA issued a Consumer Advisory on October 22, 2014, urging owners of potentially affected vehicles to “act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” According to the Advisory, reports of injuries and death allegedly resulting from Takata airbags date back to early 2013.
Honda accused of not recalling airbags fast enough
According to a New York Times September 2014 investigative report, Honda learned of the alleged defect in 2004, when an airbag exploded in a Honda Accord in Alabama. The report states that what Honda deemed an “anomaly” soon mushroomed into a series of recalls, the first of which took place in 2008, when Honda recalled approximately 4,200 vehicles potentially containing defective airbags. The NY Times report also states that incident reports continued to be filed with Honda, and alludes to the fact that questions remain as to how these incidents were in turn reported to the NHTSA and other federal auto regulators. To date, Honda has issued nine recalls concerning the Takata airbags in Honda and Acura vehicles. Of the approximately 8 million vehicles recalled, about 5 million are Honda vehicles.
Other automakers agree to regional airbag recalls
In connection with its ongoing investigation, the NHTSA has requested that Honda, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota participate in voluntary field service actions, or regional recalls. According to correspondence sent to the the NHTSA from these automakers, though each has agreed to conduct the field service actions, none have stated that a defect exists in any of the recalled vehicles. The regional recalls require automakers to recall certain model year vehicles registered in Florida, areas near the Gulf of Mexico and Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan.
According to the NHTSA, these regions are of particular concern to Takata and the automakers, as high humidity and resulting moisture may damage the ammonium nitrate compounds inside the airbags’ inflators, which may cause them to rupture. The NY Times reports that Takata has been unable to pinpoint the precise cause of the defect, and that the company has put forth several explanations for the explosions, including poor oversight of manufacturing plants in Mexico and Washington state.
Demand for replacement airbags exceeds supply
According to the NY Times, with the number of recalled vehicles already at 7.8 million and rising, supply of replacement airbags cannot meet consumers’ demand. The October 2014 NY Times article goes on to state that carmakers, unwilling to provide loner cars except in extreme circumstances, are finding solutions that U.S. Senators Blumenthal (D-Mass) and Markey (D-Conn) have deemed “troubling, dangerous,” and potentially illegal. Toyota has taken to disabling airbags in the absence of replacements, and they are advising against using the passenger seat in recalled vehicles altogether, the NY Times reports.
Are you concerned your vehicle may be included among the recalled vehicles? If so, the NHTSA suggests visiting the car manufacturer’s website, using your VIN number to check the NHTSA or the other electronic databases, and responding to any communications directly from the manufacturer.
According to the NHTSA, the following vehicles may be a part of the Takata airbag recalls:
BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen
Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang
General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X
Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL
Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck
Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider
Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45
Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza
Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra
For more information concerning the Takata airbag recalls, speak with one of our Consumer Attorneys by calling (866) 981-4800, or by filling out the form to the right.