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 defective airbags.
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.
In a crash airbag inflators can over-pressurize and explode sending metal shards tearing into vehicle occupants. The defective inflators, which have been used by 19 different automakers, have been blamed for 23 deaths and more than 260 injuries worldwide.
After news of the injuries and deaths caused by exploding Takata airbags became public in 2014, several former Takata employees turned over evidence that showed the company had known about the dangers associated with their use of ammonium nitrate as a propellant since 1998 and had manipulated data to conceal ruptures during testing. Mark Lillie, former Takata propellant engineer, and the only one of the three to make his name public, provided evidence that he warned the company that the use of ammonium nitrate would be deadly. Two anonymous whistleblowers provided evidence of the data manipulations.
The Source of the $1.7 Million
The payment will come from a reserve fund Takata set up when it filed for bankruptcy. The employees 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 civil penalties that exceed $1 million.
If you or a loved one suffered harm because of a defective airbag, call Newsome Melton to discuss your case for free: 888-808-5977.
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 […] Read more
If you have been injured by a Takata airbag rupture, it can be hard to figure out what types of compensation are available to you as there are a few compensation funds working in tandem. The courts have appointed Eric Green as the Special Master for all of the funds. Below is a brief description […] Read more
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 […] Read more
“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 […] Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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 […] Read more
Despite a flurry of filings almost a year ago, and despite best efforts by the plaintiffs and the courts, litigation involving defective Takata airbags is moving forward at a snail’s pace. At issue are over 30 million airbags installed in cars made by eleven different manufacturers in what has become the largest recall in automotive […] Read more
Florida is the “epicenter” of the Takata airbag debacle which has resulted in the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. Unfortunately, all signs indicate that the severe injuries and deaths will continue into the foreseeable future. The roadways remain flooded with millions of vehicles which may still be equipped with the potentially lethal airbags. Moreover, […] Read more