Automakers may have ignored Takata airbag problems

Civil lawsuit alleges BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota knew of issues

Published: March 12, 2017, 10:30 PM
Updated: March 14, 2017, 6:03 PM

fully deployed airbag

A new twist in the massive Takata airbag recall may end up costing some manufacturers, with allegations that some manufacturers knew about the faulty airbags but installed in their vehicles anyway.

The allegations were made by plaintiffs in a civil suit, according to information obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP), and aimed at manufacturers such as BMW and Nissan, and also Honda, whose vehicles have been hardest hit by the recall.

With Takata accepting the blame and agreeing to pay $1 billion US in restitution to the victims of the exploding airbag modules, and to manufacturers to pay for the recall and replacement of several million airbags around the world, it leads to appearances that manufacturers are another group of victims in the catastrophic event. But not so fast, say lawyers in a civil suit filed two years ago.

“For the automotive defendants to call themselves victims insults the real victims — hundreds of people who have seriously been injured or killed,” alleged a filing from Podhurst Orseck, one of the law firms representing plaintiffs in the civil suit. “Automotive defendants had independent knowledge (of the safety of Takata airbags) before installing them in millions of vehicles. (They were) aware that rupture after rupture, both during testing and in the field, confirmed how dangerous and defective Takata’s airbags were.”

Manufacturers did not respond to AFP about the allegations, stating that they would not comment on matters currently before the courts.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys, meanwhile, say they are still building the case that alleges Toyota and Ford were also aware of the potential problems but chose to use the faulty airbag modules anyway.