Even before the dust has settled on the first class action suit against airbag maker Takata, the Japanese supplier has been slapped with a second class action suit. The suit was filed in California.
Hagens Berman, a national class-action law firm, filed suit against Takata as well as Honda Motor Co. alleging the two companies were more interested in their bottom lines than the safety of consumers.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims that Takata may have cut corners to build cheaper airbags, and that Honda may have bought its airbags from Takata to reduce manufacturing costs. The result, according to the complaint, is that instead of saving lives, defective Takata airbags in Honda automobiles are killing and maiming drivers and passengers involved in otherwise minor and survivable accidents.
“We’re talking about a critical vehicle safety component that makes the difference between life or death in an automobile accident,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman. “Consumers deserve far more from Takata and Honda – two parties that have clearly let safety take a backseat to profits.”
The suit comes on the heels of efforts by federal regulators to exert pressure on Takata to increase production of replacement parts for the 7.8 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. In letters to the supplier, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator David Friedman asks: what the company’s maximum production rate is for the new airbags; if other suppliers could help with the production of the replacements; and demands regular meetings with Takata executives to monitor progress.
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Earlier this week, New York-based law firms Labaton Sucharow LLP and Baron & Budd, P.C. filed a similar suit against Takata in Florida. It also named Toyota, Honda, BMW and Ford as defendants.
Two other suits have been filed by individuals one in California and one in Florida. The airbags, which have been tied to four deaths, can send pieces of plastic and metal shrapnel into the cabin of the vehicle due to faulty igniters.
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Hagen Berman is no stranger to litigating class action suits against automakers. The firm secured a $1.6 billion settlement against Toyota for unintended acceleration defects and is currently involved in a suit against General Motors due to its faulty ignition switches that have been responsible for 30 deaths and 31 injuries.
The suit seeks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased or leased a Honda vehicle with a defective Takata airbag and that has been subject to an airbag-related warning or recall.
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Takata is accused of manufacturing cheap airbags that “blew up like hand-grenades, sending lethal metal and plastic shrapnel into the vehicle cockpit and into the bodies of the drivers and passengers.”
According to the complaint, like the other suits filed, Takata and Honda knew of the deadly airbag defect at least 13 years ago, but did nothing to prevent ongoing injury and loss of life. Honda and Takata unilaterally deemed that a 2004 reported airbag malfunction was “an anomaly,” and did not issue a recall, adequately investigate themselves or seek the involvement of federal safety regulators, the suit states.