The Japanese airbag manufacturing company Takata blatantly violated the Motor Vehicle Safety Act by producing and distributing defective airbags, prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to enact legal control over the company.
In 2000, the NHTSA was granted authority to legally oversee any noncompliant company via the Transportation Recall Enhancement and Documentation (TREAD) Act. The primary purpose of the TREAD Act is to permit trusted administrations, such as the NHTSA, to supervise the recall and repair of a company's defective products to ensure the safety of the American public. The NHTSA has never before enforced these legal rights over a manufacturer, making their recent action against Takata the first civil penalty proceedings in the administrations forty-five year history.
The NHTSA's action against Takata, known as a Consent Order, requires the Japanese manufacturer to pay a fine of $200 million, as well as stop the sale and production of all airbags containing an ammonium nitrate propellant. This chemical propellant is believed to cause Takata airbags to rupture and explode. In the United States, eight people have died as a result of Takata's exploding airbags, and nearly 100 people have been injured.
Once the NHTSA enforced its legal authority over Takata, the Japanese company was forced to admit awareness of their airbags defects while continuing to produce and sell the airbags to 12 different auto manufacturers. Takata also admitted to providing the NHTSA with incomplete and inaccurate data regarding the safety of their airbags for the past six years.
As part of the Consent Order, the NHTSA will choose an independent representative to monitor all onsite production at the Takata manufacturing plant to ensure the company complies with all aspects of the recall and repair process. For the next five years, the independent representative will track and report Takata's compliance with all requirements of the Consent Order.
The representative will also oversee a Coordinated Remedy Program. The representative will also oversee a Coordinated Remedy Program. A Coordinated Remedy Program is put into effect when a company's replacement product is in high demand and needed quickly. The program will ensure product manufacturers have sufficient replacements on hand for all vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall. It will also ensure all vehicles with defective airbags receive new airbags by June 2016.
The recall of Takata's defective airbags has left the company facing at least six class action lawsuits, and has motivated auto manufacturer Honda to drop Takata as their primary airbag supplier. Over 23 million defective Takata airbags were installed in nearly 19 million vehicles between the years 2002 to 2014.
If you own a vehicle with a defective Takata airbag, or if you were injured in a car accident that may have been caused by a defective Takata airbag, contact the product safety lawyers at The Arnold Law Firm today. We can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.