Three whistleblowers will split $1.7 million for warning the government about Takata’s dangerous violations of federal safety laws and for providing a substantial amount of information that helped the government make its case against the corporation, according to Insurance Journal. The three men used to work for Takata, the maker of tens of millions of defective airbags.
The Takata Cover-Up
The men turned over evidence that Takata lied to the government about the deadly potential of their airbags. Their body of proof helped to show that Takata “falsified data, subverted testing procedures, and concealed reports its airbags were prone to failure.”
The Source of the $1.7 Million
The three men will get their money from a reserve fund Takata set up when it filed for bankruptcy. The men might also receive compensation from the government, thanks to a 2015 law called the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (Act).
Under the Act, an auto-industry employee who notifies the government of vehicle safety violations and provides evidence that leads to the government recovering financial sanctions over $1 million against the wrongdoer corporation can get between 10 and 30 percent of any sanctions that exceed $1 million.
Two of the three former employers who helped bring down Takata submitted their information anonymously. The 2015 law allows people to seek their compensation without revealing their identities.
How Long Takata Knew the Airbags Were Deadly
The whistleblowers helped the government show that Takata knew as far back as 1999 that the volatile chemical, ammonium nitrate, used in its airbags could kill people, yet the company covered it up for years. As of April 2018, automakers have recalled approximately 50 million defective Takata airbag inflators, with more recalls expected in the next year. Millions of airbags have yet to be replaced, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The inflators can explode, impaling car and truck occupants with shards of metal shrapnel. The defective inflators, which have been used by 19 different automakers, have been blamed for 23 deaths and hundreds of horrific injuries worldwide.