Details have been exposed as to what Takata Corporation knew about its faulty airbags in 2004—four years before it disclosed safety concerns to federal regulators.
Two former employees of the Japanese auto parts manufacturer, one a former engineer who worked in its testing laboratory, claim that Takata conducted secret tests on discarded airbags and hid evidence of inflator defects.
The tests began in 2004, and the former workers say the entire procedure was hidden from those not involved. The group visited scrapyards to obtain the airbags, and in all collected 50 for testing. In two of the tests, the steel inflators cracked, which would have caused explosive deployment had they been in a crash. In anticipation of a recall, the group frantically began developing replacement parts and fixes for the flawed inflators.
The workers claim that test results were deleted from computers and that the project ended abruptly. All of this took place at Takata’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
For Takata Corp., the legal implications are astounding. If the allegations are proven, Takata could be liable for more than four deaths and 100 injuries associated with their airbags. Since 2004, more than 11 automakers have recalled over 14 million vehicles because of the defective airbags.
Bailey & Oliver will continue to monitor the story for developments. If you believe you may have a case, contact our firm by calling 479-202-5200 or by filling out our online evaluation form.