Hawaii has made legal claims against Takata Motor Corp, stating that the Japanese company knowingly sold potentially defective airbags to the public.
In a suit filed on May 13, the US state accuses Takata of covering up data indicating their airbags were a danger and delayed calling them back in. Honda Motor Co., part owner of the Japanese company, was also named in the complaint, which quotes a former Takata engineer who said: “if we go forward with [ammonium nitrate], someone will be killed.“
Hawaii’s complaint alleges that Takata decided to switch to cheaper ammonium nitrate to inflate airbags despite known the risks of this chemical used mainly to propel rockets and for mining and demolition, stating that the company’s own testing showed that this was “unpredictable and prone to explode“, but the results were ignored and Takata willingly sold airbags to car manufacturers, knowing that they will be installed in different vehicles and sold to consumers.
Bringing the suit through its Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection, Hawaii is seeking maximum civil penalties of $10,000 per violation, restitution for car buyers, repaying profits made from selling these airbags and a campaign to educate drivers on the need to seek repairs.
Faulty Takata airbags, which explode and send shrapnel into the cabin, have claimed 13 people, 10 in the USA and 3 in Malaysia, and have injured more than 100, worldwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28.8 million cars, equipped with defective airbags, have been recalled and another 40 million more may be added to the initial campaign.