Takata’s refusal to address serious safety flaws in its airbags will now cost the Japanese manufacturing company as much as $200 million.
In addition to the fine, which consists of $70 million in cash plus up to $130 million in additional penalties, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said it would appoint an independent monitor to watch Takata for at least the next five years. TK Holdings Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary, admitted that it misled both the government and consumers by providing “selective, incomplete or inaccurate data” since the company first came under scrutiny in 2009. While Takata has yet to identify a cause for the defects, and NHTSA gave the company permission to abandon that search, it still faces hundreds of civil lawsuits in Florida.
The defective airbags have been linked to seven deaths and over 100 injuries in the United States alone.
Broadly speaking, a defective product is anything that endangers users because it does not work the way it was designed to work or has a dangerous side effect. These cases fall into one of three categories:
- Manufacturing Defect: While the exact cause will never be known, it is arguable that the Takata airbags were defectively assembled or manufactured, and the nonworking part or parts caused serious injuries to hundreds of people all over the world.
- Design Defect: Some products are inherently dangerous when they are designed, and no amount of engineering can make them safe. If Takata engineers knew that their design was defective and did nothing to correct it, or did not do enough to correct it, such failure is evidence of negligence.
- Marketing Defect (Failure to Warn): Medications or medical devices often have these defects, because the manufacturers know of harmful side-effects but do not warn consumers so as to not adversely affect sales.
In addition to compensation for economic and non-economic damages, many juries award substantial punitive damages in these cases, because many companies, like Takata, arrogantly refuse to acknowledge defects or stonewall investigations to increase their profits.
Right now, in New York City and elsewhere, there are defective products on store shelves. For a free consultation with attorneys who hold companies accountable, contact our office. After hours appointments are available.