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Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis
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Who Knew about Takata Airbags?

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I was speaking with an attorney recently who has been heavily involved in the Takata Airbag litigation.  His quote to me, “Some of these injuries are awful even when not fatal. We had a client that’s face looked like the joker.  Sad.”

Yes, it is sad.  What’s really sad is that some companies, like Honda and GM, knew about these issues well before the recalls were issued.  In 2004, Honda entered into a confidential settlement in a case involving a Takata airbag explosion.  In 2007, Honda knew about two more which they settled confidentially.

As a result of the above, Honda issued a small recall in 2008, and within six (6) months of the recall, Honda knew it was an ineffective recall and not broad enough.  In fact, in August, 2009, there were four more deaths involving Hondas and Takatas, and Honda requested Takata provide them with a fail-safe repair.

What causes these explosions?  Ammonium Nitrate.  Takata chose to use this substance as the propellant for its airbags because it is less expensive, and it allowed Takata to break into the market and charge much less to the manufacturers.  Unfortunately, over time, and especially in humid weather, ammonium nitrate degrades and becomes unstable.  As a result, instead of acting as a proper propellant, it explodes and sends shrapnel into the driver and passenger compartments causing laceration injuries, hence the joker analogy.

In the mid to late ’90s, a Takata engineer objected to using ammonium nitrate, and allegedly, this engineer told the Takata executives that someone would be killed over this.  The executives overruled the science.

This is a horrible situation, and it is questionable whether Takata has the funds to perform all of these recalls and pay all of the damages; however, the manufacturers had knowledge as well.  Renault refused to purchase these types of airbags, and Takata stopped selling them in Europe.

If you have questions regarding these issues, please do not hesitate to contact the firm at Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC.  If you or someone you know has been injured by such an airbag, make sure the event is documented and the car is preserved.  Also, if you want to see if your call is in the recall, you can look up your VIN here.