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NHTSA Fines Defective Airbag Manufacturer Takata $200 Million

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has released a statement indicating that it has fined Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata $200 million for mishandling the recall of its airbag inflators, which have been linked to at least seven deaths of Americans. On May 19, 2015, the United States Department of Transportation (“DOT”) issued a statement indicating that Takata had identified a number of defects in some of its airbag inflators. According to reports, the affected inflators were constructed with a propellant that is subject to degrading over time, leading to ruptures that can cause serious injury or even death.

On June 5, 2015, the NHTSA initiated a formal administrative proceeding against Takata, referred to as the Coordinated Remedy Program Proceeding. The purpose of this action was to determine whether the NHTSA should implement an accelerated remedy approach to addressing the millions of defective Takata airbag products contained in American vehicles. The NHTSA has the authority to require vehicle manufacturers to accelerate repairs on recalled vehicles pursuant to the TREAD Act, passed in 2000. The acceleration can only be ordered when the agency determines that there will be a risk of serious injury or death if the remedy process is not accelerated.

The company agreed to commence a national recall of specific types of the front-driver side and passenger side airbags containing the defects. A number of manufacturers were involved in the recall, including popular brands like Toyota, Honda, BMW, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Nissan.

Shortly after discovering the widespread issue, NHTSA issued a consent order requiring each of the 12 total vehicle makers involved to accelerate repairs on recalled vehicles and to prioritize any cars or trucks containing the defective products in order to reduce the risk of rupturing. The department also imposed timelines on when the repairs must be made, which will begin during 2017 and finish during 2019.

Under the NHTSA’s order, Takata has agreed to submit its business practices to United States government oversight for the next five-year period and to phase out its use of the propellant.

Unlike negligence actions, which require the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care, a plaintiff in a strict liability case need only satisfy a strict liability standard. In short, this requires a showing that the product in question was unreasonably unsafe as designed or contained a manufacturing defect that resulted in the final product deviating from its intended design.

The plaintiff must next show that the unreasonably unsafe design or manufacturing defect was the direct cause of his or her injury. This is typically satisfied when the plaintiff can show that he or she would not have suffered injuries but for the design defect or the manufacturing defect.

If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of a defective or faulty airbag, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our dedicated and experienced auto defect lawyers have represented many plaintiffs in actions against large companies, including residents of Texas, Florida, and Illinois. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your rights and the remedies available to you and your family. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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