Airbag Manufacturer’s Resistance in Expanding Recall Puts Vehicle Occupants at Risk
This blog has previously warned consumers about exploding airbags manufactured by Takata, the largest manufacturer of airbags. The defective airbags have been linked to 45 injuries and four deaths caused by ruptured inflators. When the airbags deploy, they can propel shrapnel at vehicle occupants. As of mid-January 2015, the defective airbags have been the subject of four national recalls.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer of the airbags has placed millions of people at risk by resisting pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement a more extensive recall. Takata initially declined to implement a national recall. The manufacturer instead limited its recall only to vehicles equipped with the faulty airbags in high humidity areas.
The NHTSA objected to this half-hearted approach in a letter sent to the manufacturer in November that provided as follows:
"Recent information indicates that the unreasonable risk posed by the subject driver's side airbag inflators may exist outside of the areas with high absolute humidity and therefore would not be mitigated by the current regional recall.
An auto manufacturer may limit the geographic scope of a safety recall only when it can justify with sufficient evidence and data that the limitation is appropriate. Here, Takata has provided no justification for limiting the geographic scope to the high absolute humidity region."
The airbag manufacturer rejected the suggestion by the NHTSA that Takata expand its recall beyond regions with high humidity. A Takata executive acknowledged during congressional hearings before the U.S. Senate that it was aware of the exploding airbag problem as early as 2005. However, the executive indicated that the incident was an "anomaly," which did not merit more extensive investigation.
In the wake of Takata's refusal to expand the recall, the NHTSA issued an ultimatum requiring Takata to expand the recall nationwide under threat of further legal action and financial penalties. The NHTSA indicated the agency had "tentatively concluded" that the airbag problems were not limited only to regions of the country with high humidity.
Takata also elected not to comply with this second request to expand the manufacturer's recall, which was subject to a December 2, 2014 deadline. Takata contended that the NHTSA did not have evidence to establish the recall needed to be expanded to more regions of the country. Takata also claimed that the NHTSA had no legal authority to compel the company to modify its recall.
Because Takata has refused to voluntarily expand its recalls, car manufacturers like BMW, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler and Honda have had to voluntarily recall over 14 million vehicles both domestically and overseas. While Honda has expanded its recall nationwide, BMW and Chrysler have only implemented high humidity area recalls as of Mid-December.
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If you or a family member has been injured because of a defective airbag or in any type of accident, you might have a right to legal compensation. Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia, including cities, towns and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Sources: Reuters, www.autonews.com