5th Death Linked to Takata, Airbag Co. Faces Criminal Investigation

On Nov. 13, Honda announced that they had linked a fifth death to one of their vehicles that contained a Takata airbag.

Honda revealed that a July 2014 crash in Malaysia led to the death of a driver after the airbag in her Honda City model ruptured and propelled metal shrapnel into the vehicle. It is the first death reported outside the U.S. Honda believes that the airbag inflator may have ruptured after being exposed to excessive moisture at a plant in LaGrange, Georgia.

Honda also widened their recall to include 170,000 vehicles, but none of the affected models were sold in the U.S.

Just hours prior to Honda’s announcement, an anonymous Takata official told Reuters that the company had modified the composition of an airbag propellant that was at the center of the recall. Nonetheless, Takata continues to allege that their original design was not defective.

Unfortunately, the government does not necessarily agree with the company’s stance. Three senators have called on the Justice Department to investigate if Takata lied in reports they filed with the government. They also want the Justice Department to determine who should be held responsible if misleading information was provided.

Takata Corp. was investigated in 2013 for price-fixing seatbelts that were installed in cars sold in the United States. The corporation pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $71.3 million in fines. Additionally, three Takata executives were sentenced to serve time in U.S. prison for their involvement in the conspiracy.

With a criminal investigation looming and threats of lawsuits, news on Takata Corp. will likely continue to trickle in well into 2015.

If you believe you may have a case, contact our firm at 479-202-5200 or fill out our online contact form.