Commentary on defective tires, cars, recalls and litigation.

Rich Newsome is a civil justice attorney who represents consumers who have been injured by defective tires, cars and other products. As Past President of the Florida Justice Association and current member of the Executive Committee of the National Trial Lawyers Association…MORE

20
Nov

Over the last few weeks there has been an onslaught of media coverage and public attention to the Takata recall issue that we have discussed here several times. Senator Bill Nelson, who has been a vocal critic of the manner in which Takata and auto makers have handled the recall, will chair a Senate Commerce Committee hearing today in which he will question Takata and other industry executives about what and when they knew about the problem. He will also question NHTSA about the role they played in the recall and what appears to be a broken vehicle and tire recall system.

As a result of the congressional and national media attention, there have been several new pieces of the reported story which have recently been made public. Today our firm filed an amended complaint which alleges many of these new facts and sets forth a detailed history of the reported defect story.

The timeline below summarizes the basic facts and history of the recall as alleged in the amended complaint.

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  • Senators Ask DOJ to Investigate Takata for Exploding Airbags

  • Today, in the wake of yesterday’s bombshell report from the New York Times that Takata destroyed secret test results in which airbag steel inflators exploded, United States Senators Markey and Blumenthal called on the U.S. Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.

    Yesterday’s Times story reported how Takata  engineers performed tests on its airbags back in 2004. They reportedly tested 50 airbags. The employees reportedly said that steel inflators in two of the modules shattered sending potentially deadly shards of steel out from the module. When the engineers told Takata executives about the test results, they were reportedly ordered to destroy the test results and trash the evidence.

    The Times story comes on the heels of a growing wave of public attention to the Takata problem. As we reported here, last week Senator Bill Nelson announced plans to hold Senate hearings to find out when and what Takata...

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  • Senator Nelson Blasts Defective Airbags

  • This week a sitting United States Senator picked a fight with several multi-national corporations because of the way they’ve handled a recent recall involving defective airbags. We were fortunate to have front row seats this week as we watched it unfold.

    "You fix it and fix it right," said Nelson as he made a three city tour across Florida this week, including a press conference in Orlando on Tuesday at our law firm’s warehouse. "This is absolutely unacceptable and absolutely outrageous."

    The Takata Corporation, a Japanese company with a plants in Mexico and elsewhere, is one of the two largest airbag manufacturers in the world. Their airbags are used by many of the largest car makers in a variety of different vehicles. Lately they have been the target of lawsuits and inquiries in multiple countries. Over the past six years, more than 16 million vehicles worldwide have been recalled because of defective Takata airbags which explode, sending shrapnel through the fabric of the bags and into a driver or passenger’s face, neck and...

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  • NHTSA Advisory Failed to Include Complete List of Recalled Vehicles

  • Last week, as we discussed here, NHTSA issued a rare Consumer Advisory about the Takata exploding airbag recall. The Advisory purported to include a complete list of vehicles that were part of the recall, and warned people who owned cars on the list to immediately take their vehicles in to a dealership to have the airbags replaced.

    The problem? NHTSA’s Advisory was wrong. It failed to identify all of the vehicles that had been recalled. 

    In an effort to provide a current and accurate and complete list of vehicles that are part of the recall for our clients and their families, we’ve put together a spreadsheet of recalled vehicles based on the most recent publicly disclosed data. There is a copy...

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  • NHTSA Issues Urgent Warning About Takata Airbag Recall

  • As we reported recently here on our blog, millions of vehicles have been identified as part of a “rolling recall” involving defective Takata airbags. The airbags, which explode with too much force, cause the metal housing to shatter and fly into the face of drivers and passengers like shrapnel from a pipe bomb.

    In addition to the danger to consumers who have cars with affected airbags are two additional problems: first, neither the manufacturers nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or “NHTSA”, which is the government agency regulating automobile manufacturers), have identified or explained the exact cause of the defect.  

    The second, and more dangerous problem for members of the public, is that there are still millions of affected vehicles which are subject to the recall and are still on the road.

    Honda was the first manufacturer to identify the problem and first recalled some of its cars with the bad airbags...

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  • Michelin Steer Tire Failures under Investigation

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation has opened a rare tire defect investigation into the Michelin XZA 2 Energy tires, used primarily for tractor-trailer applications, particularly those configured as auto haulers. The Preliminary Evaluation, a low-level inquiry, is based on six complaints in NHTSA’s Vehicle Owner Questionnaires database, going back to 2012. Five of the VOQs are from a single fleet of trucks manufactured by Paccar Inc., but each complaint referenced multiple failures on multiple trucks. One of the complaints not included in the Opening Resume, but involves the XZA 2 Energy tire, claims that over-heating is a factor in the failures:

    A 2014 Peterbilt 388 truck equipped with Michelin XZA 2 Energy tires, size 295-60-22.5. The contact stated that while traveling approximately 66 mph, the front passenger's side tire blew and the contact crashed into the median. There were no injuries. The contact also stated that the front driver's side tire blew...

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