Friday the 13th of January (2017) was the day was the day that Takata was ordered to pay for their lies about defective airbags they knowingly allowed to be installed in several makes of vehicles in the US and worldwide. They might still not be off the hook.
We have reported many times in this space about the gross negligence of Takata in the seemingly never-ending saga of airbags that have seriously injured and even killed unknowing drivers.
Takata Corporation on Friday agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud in concealing its sales of defective automotive airbag inflators, and will pay $1 billion in fines and restitution.
In announcing the plea deal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit also unsealed an indictment charging three Takata executives with wire fraud and conspiracy.
The Tokyo-based company began developing automotive airbag inflators in the late 1990s that relied upon ammonium nitrate as their primary propellant.
In its plea, Takata admitted that since at least 2000, it knew that some of its nitrate-based inflators were not performing to the automaker’s specifications, and that certain iterations of the inflator were prone to failures during testing, including, but now limited to, rupturing.
Despite this knowledge, the company says it induced its customers to purchase the airbag systems by submitting false and fraudulent reports that concealed the true condition of the inflators.
Takata further admitted that several its executives and employees routinely discussed the falsification of test reports being provided to the company’s customers in email and in verbal communications.
Further, the company admitted that even after the inflators began to experience repeated problems in the field – including ruptures causing injuries and deaths – Takata executives continued to withhold the true and accurate inflator test information and data from their customers.
None of these executives were disciplined for their actions until 2015, the government said in a news release.
Under the terms of the plea deal, Takata will pay a $25 million criminal fine, $125 million to individuals who were injured by the air bags and $850 million to automakers that purchased the inflators.
Federal prosecutors announced they’ve also charged three former Takata executives with concealing the deadly defects in the air bag inflators.
The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury in December, but not unsealed until Friday.
According to an indictment, the executives — Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi – falsified and altered reports to hide from customers’ tests that showed the inflators could rupture or otherwise fail to meet specifications.
Takata is expected to be sold to another auto supplier or investor sometime this year.
The lawyers at Theodoros & Rooth have little sympathy for those individuals and companies who knowingly deceive the public into thinking their product or service is safe. The result of this deception is too often life-changing injuries or even death. Do you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by the irresponsible actions of others due to a defective product? If so, we want to hear from you. There is no fee for an initial consultation. We will quickly determine if you have a case and if so, we will represent you aggressively until you get the justice that you deserve. Call us today.
Source: Courthouse News Service