The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have fined Takata Corporation $14,000 per day until the company cooperates with the investigation into their defective airbags.
Last year set a record in the automotive industry for the number of cars that were recalled. According to the New York Times, more than 60 million vehicles were recalled in 2014.
Nearly 30 percent of those vehicles were recalled because of defects in the airbags produced by Japanese auto supplier Takata.
Takata supplies more than a quarter of the worlds airbag systems. A defect in the inflation devices of Takata airbags caused airbags to explode and send metal shards into the bodies of drivers.
At least six deaths have been confirmed in Takata airbag cases. At issue is whether Takata should comply with orders to initiate a nationwide recall of all of the vehicles affected by the defective airbags.
Thus far, Takata has refused to issue a nationwide recall because the company insists that a limited geographic recall of the vehicles is sufficient. There have been studies that demonstrate that the airbag propellant used in defective Takata airbags is especially volatile in hot and humid regions.
However, the NHTSA has ordered Takata to widen the recall all across America precisely because people travel in their cars to other states, and the used car market also transports vehicles across state lines.
Takata is being fined the maximum fine for refusing to comply with an order from federal safety regulators. The company is currently ignoring two orders. Each order carries a maximum fine of $7,000 per day.
In the first order, the company was directed to issue a nationwide recall and it refused. In the second order, the company was directed to turn over all of its documents related to the design and manufacturing of airbags as well as the testing requirements used by the company to evaluate their safety and participate in interviews with regulators.
The NHTSA has found that the company is stonewalling investigators who are having a hard time prying information from Takata's representatives and officials.
More than 17 million vehicles have been recalled by Takata, but only two million have been fixed and millions more have not yet been recalled.
The fine on Takata was announced by the U.S. Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Anthony Foxx. The automotive companies have found themselves in a similar situation. They have been unable to get the safety data they need to fully evaluate the safety of the airbags that Takata has sold them.
Instead of relying on Takata's patchy data, companies such as Toyota and GM have banded to together to hire an independent aerospace engineering corporation to independently test the safety of Takata's airbags.
As Takata's stonewalling of safety regulators and automotive companies continues, the NHTSA and Foxx have both vowed to keep the daily fines in place. It will be interesting to see whether Takata becomes the first automotive company to be taken to federal court in more than 40 years.
At Arnold Law Firm, we believe that companies that provide such a critical service to the public have a responsibility to uphold the highest safety standards. When they fail to do so, lives are literally at risk. Our personal injury litigation attorneys have decades of experience holding large multinational corporations responsible for the injuries that they cause.
If you or a love one have been injured in a Takata-related accident, contact our Sacramento personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.
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