On February 22nd, 2018, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced that her office has joined with 44 other states in reaching a $650 million product liability settlement with T.K. Holdings, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Takata. This company has been facing legal actions throughout the country over defective and dangerous airbag systems.
According to a statement put out by Attorney General Rutledge, this settlement stems from allegations that the company hid important safety issues related to its airbags. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a nationwide recall of more than
37 million American vehicles because of defective Takata airbag systems.
According to NHTSA estimates, more than 350,000 vehicles in the state of Arkansas were affected by this recall. Notably, this issue is not yet resolved. Arkansas regulators are projecting additional future airbag recalls. The total number of vehicles recalled for defective Takata airbags could double by 2019.
A company has a legal duty to ensure that it is putting reasonably safe products on the market. Don Elliott and Tim Smith, defective product attorneys from the Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Elliott & Smith Law Firm, noted that “Companies that put profits over consumer safety can be held legally liable for any resulting injuries. Automakers have a duty to ensure that all component parts in their vehicles have been properly tested and are safe for public use.”
The evidence suggests that Takata failed to live up to its duties. State and federal regulators allege that these airbag systems had a serious design flaw. As a result of the defective design, the propellant within the airbag had the potential to burn up far too quickly. When this happened, the affected airbag was at risk of exploding.
Indeed, Takata airbag explosions were even sometimes reported after relatively minor fender benders. The effects of the defective airbags were devastating. Accidents that could have only been minor or moderate turned tragic. Many victims suffered devastating injuries. As of February of 2018. U.S. highway safety officials have linked 20 deaths to these defective airbags.
Attorney General Rutledge reports that Takata’s inadequate response put the health and safety of innocent Arkansas residents at risk. There are allegations that the company not only disregarded the safety of consumers, but also actively manipulated the results of airbag safety tests. In addition, once the airbag safety issue became clear, the company failed to notify regulators about the problem.
Release ID: 318964