For weeks, we have been reporting on defective airbags made by the Japanese company Takata built into many of the cars on Connecticut roads today. Investigators have found that when these airbags deploy – metal components found in the bags explode sending shrapnel into car occupants. A number of drivers have been killed by this flying debris – others severely injured.
It now turns out that Takata knew about this defect over a decade ago.
A decade ago….
When engineers testing the bags in Michigan confirmed the problem (yes – 10 years ago), they began preparations for a redesign in anticipation of a recall.
But instead of notifying highway safety administrators, company executives ordered the engineers to remain silent and destroy all data showing a problem.
They completely ignored the problem. And then they denied they had even tested the product and discovered the problem in the first place.
And the awful deaths this defective product is causing continues.
According to the New York Times – “the most recent death linked to the airbags involved an accident in a suburban Los Angeles parking lot last year. Hai Ming Xu, 47, was killed by an airbag that deployed explosively in his 2002 Acura TL.
The police in Alhambra, Calif., initially treated the case as a homicide because of the nature of his injuries, before an autopsy suggested the wounds were caused by the airbag, according to a Los Angeles County Coroner’s report. The report concluded that extensive lacerations on Mr. Xu’s face came from “a metallic portion” of the airbag inflater that “hit the deceased on the face as it deployed.” The report also said tears had been discovered in the airbag.”
So what is the U.S. government doing to protect consumers?
Finally this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called on automakers to recall all vehicles that contain airbags by Takata (Takata is currently balking the federal request). The agency has said that if automakers do not recall the vehicles voluntarily, they will use their full statutory powers to compel the companies to pull all affected vehicles off the road. The problem is said to affect millions of vehicles made by Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda, and BMW – mostly from model years 2008 or earlier.
While the recall request covers just driver-side airbags, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) has urged the Highway Safety Administration to go farther – and extend the recall to passenger-side airbags as well.
If you own a car made by one of these companies – this is scary stuff. Call your car manufacturer and tell them you want these cars recalled now. And contact your congressman – to insist that they pressure federal agencies to act aggressively.
Our founding partners, Leon RisCassi and Bill Davis were pioneers in the fight for consumer rights against companies selling defective products, pioneers all of us at RisCassi & Davis are proud of. They saw terrible injustices and sought to make things right. Their fight on behalf of Connecticut families has made a real and lasting difference in the lives of thousands.
If you are ever injured by a defective product, call a qualified Connecticut personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable and well trained personal injury lawyer can help you fight powerful corporate interests when you’ve been hurt, ensuring that you’re not harassed or abused and that your rights are protected.
The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind. And – there is no fee or other costs unless we are successful on your behalf.