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 knew about their exploding airbag problem.
Over the past seven years there have been several lawsuits filed against Takata on behalf of injured and killed motorists. With the exception of a small handful of cases that were recently filed, all of the suits have been quickly, quietly and confidentially settled with no discovery and no depositions.
Perhaps, after seeing yesterday’s Times story, we now know why.
Our firm recently filed a lawsuit in Florida state court on behalf of 26 year old Corey Burdick, who was disfigured and blinded in one eye when the airbag in his 2001 Honda exploded in a minor crash. Corey’s case is still pending and is in the early stages of discovery.
If the DOJ gets involved in the Takata issue perhaps it will be a turning point. Perhaps now — in the wake of the Toyota unintended acceleration problem, the GM ignition switch recall, and now this issue – the third time will be the charm to effect real change for our broken recall system.