Honda Motor Co. and Takata Corp. are the targets of a recently filed lawsuit alleging the manufacturers prioritized profits over customer safety. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims that Takata built cheap airbags to cut costs and that Honda bought the airbags to cut manufacturing expenses. Consequently, the airbags are "killing and maiming drivers and passengers involved in otherwise minor and survivable accidents."
The lawsuit does not include claims of personal injury or wrongful death, but the complaint could lead to the collection of economic damages for car owners. Those damages could include reimbursement for the affected vehicles' decline in value.
The defective Takata airbags were installed in vehicles made by numerous companies, but the class potentially represented by the lawsuit would include drivers who leased or bought Honda vehicles that contained faulty Takata airbags.
In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued alerts to warn drivers that passenger-side airbags in early 2000s Honda models could explode. The NHTSA said that as many as 7.8 million vehicles could be affected, and that owners should stop driving their vehicles and have them inspected by a dealer.
The lawsuit against Takata and Honda claims that Takata first learned of the airbag problem in 2001 if not earlier, but the manufacturer failed to take action. Honda became aware of the problem in 2004. The complaint refers to the death of a Florida woman who was killed when a Takata airbag exploded in September. Shrapnel ripped through the airbag and cut the woman's neck. Her wounds were such that detectives initially investigated her death as a homicide.
The Los Angeles Times has more details on the specific kinds of vehicles with the defective airbags.
To learn more about product liability and class-action lawsuits, please visit our Collective Litigation overview.