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Update on Takata Airbag Litigation

Update on Takata Airbag Litigation

The damage caused by faulty Takata air bag inflators has faded from the headlines and public attention, but millions of cars with the dangerous components still may be on the roads, leading to injuries and legal claims.

 Takata, a Japanese airbag manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy in the face of a global recall and lawsuits. The inflators, especially in hot and humid circumstances, can deploy with too much force due to contamination and degradation, rupturing the metal canister and sending shrapnel through the car.

“You’ve got a lifesaving device that turns into a weapon,” said Frank Melton of Newsome Melton.

 Although Honda first became closely associated with the recall, the airbag inflators also were used by Nissan, Ford, Chrysler and more than a dozen other manufacturers. About 63 million airbags were recalled, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

“It’s the largest recall in automotive history,” said Melton, whose firm is one of the nation’s leaders in representing plaintiffs in Takata cases.

Melton represented one of the first plaintiffs, Floridian Corey Burdick. A minor accident led to Burdick’s airbag deploying and sending shrapnel into the occupant compartment that blinded him in his right eye.

In other cases, the exploding airbags caused hearing loss, severe lacerations and even caught fire causing third-degree burns. Sixteen people have been killed in the U.S. and 250 injured in crashes involving the airbags, according to NHTSA.

These injuries did not have to happen, Melton said. 

They knew there was a problem but didn’t quickly tell car owners and buyers or even stop using the airbags. “They would settle them [cases] quickly and bury them,” Melton said.  “They could have prevented this from being so widespread if they had let people know and done a better job monitoring their component parts manufacturers. It’s clearly profits over people.”

In 2017 Takata filed for bankruptcy. Honda and Nissan injury cases, along with those against Takata, now are handled by a bankruptcy court administrator. Victims injured in Hondas and Nissans must now use the bankruptcy process to have their claims heard and lose the chance to be awarded punitive damages. But the two carmakers lose the right to contest their liability, though they can argue about the amount of the award, if the case ultimately goes to trial. 

About 15.9 million of the faulty airbags still are in use, according to an independent monitor of the recall. Melton said it will take until 2035 to get all the airbags off the road or repaired. Automakers did not do a good job publicizing the recall, particularly in the early stages– often sending notices that looked like junk mail. 

The focus now has turned to other carmakers. Some victims injured by the airbags have tapped into a $125 million settlement fund set up by the Bankruptcy Court. But, Melton said, while that may seem like a lot of money at first blush, with so many cars and years of potential claims and victims coming, the administrators can only pay out of fraction of the full value of what the claim might be worth in court during a jury trial

Only Honda and Nissan opted to participate in the bankruptcy claims process.  Other carmakers who didn’t opt in and participate in the bankruptcy claims process, can still be sued in state or federal by victims of ruptured Takata inflators. 

Sadly, more injuries and deaths are likely.

While most of the early claims were for model years 2000-2004, Melton said later model cars now are experiencing the problems. Car owners should check if their airbags have been recalled, even if they haven’t gotten an official notice.

“It’s far from over. These incidents are still continuing to happen across the country,” Melton said. 

If you have questions about this topic or need assistance filing a Takata airbag claim, Newsome Melton can help. Contact us at 1-888-380-2809.

Takata Whistleblowers Awarded $1.7 Million

Takata Whistleblowers Awarded $1.7 Million

Three whistleblowers will share $1.7 million for warning the government about Takata Corp.’s dangerous violations of federal safety laws and providing a substantial amount of information that helped the government make its case against the corporation, according to Insurance Journal. The three men are former employees of Takata, the maker of tens of millions of […]

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Takata Whistleblower Says Air Bag Warning Was ‘Ethical Duty’

Takata Whistleblower Says Air Bag Warning Was ‘Ethical Duty’

Former Takata Corp. engineer Mark Lillie told the Japan Times he had an “ethical duty” to expose the airbag manufacturer’s knowledge, dating back the late 1990s, that the chemical compound used as a propellant to inflate its airbags was dangerous and highly susceptible to uncontrolled explosions. The propellant, housed in a canister in the steering […]

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Takata Agrees to Plead Guilty & Pay $1 Billion as Massive Recall Expands

Takata Agrees to Plead Guilty & Pay $1 Billion as Massive Recall Expands

Takata to Pay $1 Billion as Massive Recall Continues to Expand The largest automotive recall in U.S. history continues to grow as regulators say more than 20 million dangerous Takata airbag inflators remain on American roads.  It is now estimated that 42 million vehicles, equipped with around 70 million defective Takata inflators, will be recalled […]

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New Takata Study Undermines Manufacturers’ Blame the Consumer Defense

New Takata Study Undermines Manufacturers’ Blame the Consumer Defense

“The findings in this analysis conducted for The Safety Institute are disturbing, said Richard Newsome of Newsome Melton law firm. “For months now, all we have been hearing is how it’s the consumers responsibility to not drive cars that have been recalled, yet here we see evidence that car owners couldn’t get their recalled vehicles fixed […]

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URGENT: Takata Recall Update

URGENT: Takata Recall Update

Federal safety regulators announced more than 300,000 Hondas and Acuras should not be driven until their Takata airbags are replaced.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said new tests show these airbags have a much higher risk of exploding and killing a driver or passenger. These airbags have a 50% chance of exploding when they are deployed in an accident, according to the agency. Other Takata airbags have less than a 1% chance of exploding.

Cars located in humid regions of the country such as Texas, Florida and the Gulf Coast are at particular risk.

The models identified by NHTSA include: 2001-2002 Honda Civic, 2001-2002 Honda Accord, 2002-2003 Acura TL, 2002 Honda CR-V, 2002 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Acura CL, 2003 Honda Pilot.

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2001-2003 Honda/Acura Takata Airbag PSA

2001-2003 Honda/Acura Takata Airbag PSA

A new public service announcement (PSA) featuring Corey Burdick, one of many victims of defective Takata airbags that have been recalled.

“The federal government just issued an urgent warning to consumers about certain 2001/2002 Honda vehicles with defective airbags,” Newsome can be seen saying in the PSA. “The warning told consumers not even to drive their vehicles until they have taken it into a dealership to make sure that if they have a defective airbag, it has been replaced.”

Takata, whose airbags can be found in one in every five cars on the road in the United States, has come under Congressional scrutiny for intentionally putting forward a product which executives knew was defective. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has stated that the current Takata airbag recall may reach upwards to 250 million vehicles worldwide.

In the educational PSA, a disfigured Burdick speaks into the camera stating, “I lost my eye because of a defective airbag…take your car in today so that this doesn’t happen to you.”

Corey Burdick’s life was forever changed on May 29, 2014 when he was involved in a minor traffic incident while driving to work in Lake County, Florida. During the minor incident, the Takata airbag in his 2001 Honda Civic ejected sharp metal shrapnel into his right eye, leaving him disfigured and permanently blind in that eye.

Burdick later found out that his Civic had been previously recalled multiple times for the dangerous airbag defect. Unfortunately, Burdick never received notice of the recall. As a result, Burdick, his wife, and their two young children are now forced to live with permanent and needless injuries he suffered as a result of the shrapnel defect.

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Airbag Debacles Continue to Endanger Consumers

Airbag Debacles Continue to Endanger Consumers

The Takata airbag debacle has demonstrated how corporate recklessness and greed can transform a safety device into a source of danger, as ten deaths and even more severe injuries have been linked to shrapnel from exploding inflators.  And while the Takata recall continues to expand, rival supplier Continental also recently issued a large recall of […]

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