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Honda Expands Recalls After Authorities Confirm a Ninth Takata Air Bag Death: Car Industry Rocked by Challenges in Its Wake

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 24-Jan-2016

As this blog and other news sources recently reported, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed a teenager received fatal injuries from a crash in July linked to a defective Takata airbag.

This latest death brings the total number of reported fatalities directly associated with Takata air bags to nine. Seven other fatalities occurred in the U.S., and one occurred in Malaysia. While all the deaths have involved Hondas, 100 people globally have sustained injuries from driving a variety of models that have the flawed air bags.

Honda just announced an expansion of the recall to include 127,000 more CR-Vs from 2003 to 2004. The company also added a small number of 2016 CR-V models. According to the NHTSA, the industry expects Mazda and Subaru to recall more 2005 to 2008 models, including the Legacy and Outback.

This huge, sprawling recall has taken an enormous bite out of Takata's profits. Honda, a manufacturer that owns a 1.2 percent stake in the company, said last month that it would not purchase any more air bags from Takata. (For more information on the severing of the relationship between Honda and Takata, see Facing Substantial Fines Over Airbag Defects, Takata and Honda Part Ways.) Following quickly on the heels of this announcement, Ford, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan declared they would discontinue their air bag contracts with Takata. In addition, the embattled air bag company will pay a $70 million civil penalty.

Meanwhile, court documents unsealed late in December have added yet another wrinkle to the story. The New York Times reports: "Explosions in Takata's airbags raised alarms at the highest levels of the airbag manufacturer and its biggest customer, Honda, more than five years ago, according to internal documents unsealed by a Florida court... The documents were unsealed as part of a lawsuit brought against Takata in Florida. According to minutes of a meeting at Honda's American headquarters in Torrance, Calif., on July 22, 2009, Hidenobu Iwata, who at the time oversaw the automaker's manufacturing operations in the United States, pressed Takata's president, Shigehisa Takada, on the extent of the defect. "I am constantly worrying how far it spreads out," Mr. Iwata told Mr. Takada and other Takata executives at the meeting..."

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