Airbag Giant Angers Congress, W& L Adds Takata Lawsuits

UPDATE: Weitz & Luxenberg is no longer accepting  new clients for this lawsuit.

Takata Corp. yesterday responded to Congress with a defiant “no” when lawmakers demanded a 50-state recall of the corporation’s defective airbags.

But earlier, Weitz & Luxenberg responded to the Takata crisis with a barrage of new lawsuits over the economic losses caused by the exploding airbags.

At about the same time Takata appeared before Congress, four automobile manufacturers —Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Honda Motor Co., and Toyota Motor Corp. — announced recalls of their own to help get Takata exploding airbags off the road.

Takata representatives had gone to Capitol Hill to testify at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing about the defective airbags. Lawmakers were displeased by what they heard.

In particular, they were angered by Takata’s refusal to broaden its support for the defective airbag recalls initiated earlier this year. The corporation limited its recall support to a handful of states, those with a tropical or subtropical climate.

Takata claims — implausibly, say safety watchdogs like the Center for Automotive Safety — that only in states like Hawaii and Florida is there a risk of the airbags exploding.

Takata asserts that high humidity is to blame for the problem. This contention outraged some House subcommittee members.

Takata’s Defective Airbag Answers Displease

House subcommittee members indicated they worried that restricting the recall to just a few states would confuse consumers everywhere else.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) complained to Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, senior vice president of global quality assurance, that consumers in her district “are literally afraid to drive their cars.”

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) was among those who denounced Takata’s answers to lawmakers’ questions as unhelpful and unlikely to restore consumer confidence.

“What should I say to the mom in Michigan who asks me if she and her family are safe behind the wheel?” Upton asked.

Lawmakers also expressed unhappiness with Takata’s decision to ignore a separate recall demand issued one week earlier by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Takata indicated it believes the NHTSA lacks authority to compel the corporation to order an automobile recall since Takata is not an automobile manufacturer.

Taking Action Against Takata Exploding Airbags

Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota, on the other hand, are automobile manufacturers and, in response to this latest NHTSA demand, they took action of their own.

Chrysler said it is recalling 2003 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups in all Gulf Coast states, plus Hawaii and several U.S. territories. These vehicles are equipped with Takata exploding airbags.

Ford’s recall covers the same states as Chrysler’s, but includes Georgia. Ford said it is recalling certain 2004-05 Ranger pickups and 2005-06 GT cars.

Yesterday, Toyota announced a recall of 190,000 Takata exploding airbag-equipped vehicles built at Toyota’s Mexico plant from September 2002 until December 2003. Most of those cars are in Japan, however.

Honda’s most recent recall is much larger than Toyota’s. It extends to vehicles operated everywhere in the U.S.

Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota are among the 11 automobile manufacturers that have recalled vehicles outfitted with the lethally defective Takata exploding airbags, to date implicated in at least five deaths.

That carnage along with the substantial economic losses suffered by victims of Takata’s dangerously defective airbags spurred Weitz & Luxenberg earlier this year to initiate class action lawsuits against Takata and Honda.

Weitz & Luxenberg is continuing to accept new cases in its quest to obtain justice for those harmed by Takata exploding airbags.

 

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