According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), air bag manufacturer Takata is not cooperating with their investigation into why some of the air bags have exploded upon deployment.
So the NHTSA has decided to fine the company $14,000 a day until they do.
Takata stated they were surprised by the announcement of the fine on Friday, February 27, 2015. According to them, they’ve cooperated with investigators all along.
Takata Continues to Resist NHTSA
It’s difficult to take Takata’s statement seriously, as it was just a couple months ago that they defied an order by safety regulators to expand their previous air bag recalls.
After internal company tests indicated the air bags were vulnerable to humidity—and after a couple of the most serious accidents occurred in humid Florida—Takata implemented recalls in certain humid areas. Critics later noted that the recalls were insufficient to protect public safety, especially after other accidents occurred in dryer climates. But Takata apparently refused to expand the recalls.
In November 2014, the NHTSA demanded that Takata and automakers expand the regional recalls to cover all 50 states. Takata resisted those demands, stating that it had no evidence such an expansion was necessary, and further stating that the administration did not have the authority to require such a recall.
This left it up to the automakers, which have complied with the order. Honda, for instance, has undertaken a worldwide investigative recall, and has taken steps to procure replacement parts from other suppliers.
NHTSA Says Takata Refusing to Cooperate
The NHTSA fined Takata because of its failure to comply with two orders issued last year. These orders were for the company to deliver documentation and other material concerning the faulty air bags.
Takata says it has delivered more than 2.4 million pages of documents to the NHTSA, but the administration argues that the company has failed to provide any sort of guidance on the content. They have asked for an explanation, but so far Takata has not delivered any. The NHTSA’s attorney told Money that the company was not being forthcoming with the information needed to fully investigate the serious safety defect.
The company will be fined the $14,000 a day until the NHTSA feels they are fully cooperating. If the company lets it run for a year, the total would be about $5.1 million. This seems low in comparison to the $70 million that the NHTSA recently fined Honda for failing to properly report all accident information to the administration.
In addition to the fine, the NHTSA also stated that Takata is behind on air bag repairs. So far, nearly 90 percent of vehicles recalled for air bag problems have not been fixed.
No one knows for sure what caused the problem with Takata air bags, but under certain circumstances, they could explode upon deployment, shooting shrapnel into the car and injuring and sometimes killing occupants. At least five deaths have been linked with the defect, and over 100 injuries. Takata, Honda, and a group of 10 automakers have all started their own independent tests on the air bags to determine the cause.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.