(BOISE) – Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today a settlement with TK Holdings, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese airbag maker Takata, over allegations the company concealed safety issues related to its airbag systems.
The settlement was reached between the company and attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia. It concludes a multistate investigation into TK Holdings’ failure to disclose known safety defects associated with certain airbag inflators.
As the compound used to inflate airbags was exposed to heat and humidity, it degraded. Consequently, upon deployment, the airbag inflator could rupture and send pieces of the metal casing surrounding the propellant into a car’s cabin. At least 20 people have died worldwide.
Beginning in 2008, auto manufacturers recalled vehicles containing these airbag inflators in response to the defect. But Takata did not take steps to recall the inflators until 2014. More than 50 million airbags in more than 37 million vehicles have been recalled so far. By 2020, the number of recalled airbags could reach 65 million.
“Airbags are intended to protect consumers, not injure or kill them,” Wasden said. “This settlement addresses TK Holdings’ unacceptable conduct and works to better protect consumers in the future.”
Under the agreement, TK Holdings, Inc. and its successor, Reorganized TK Holdings, shall:
- Not advertise or otherwise represent the safety of its airbag systems or phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) in any way that is false, deceptive, or misleading;
- Not represent that its airbags are safe unless supported by competent and reliable scientific or engineering evidence;
- Not falsify or manipulate testing data, or provide any testing data that the companies know is inaccurate;
- Except as needed to fulfill its obligations under the various recalls, sell any airbag systems using PSAN as a propellant;
- Comply with state and federal law as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Consent Order and Coordinated Remedy Order; and
- Continue to cooperate with auto manufacturers to ensure that replacement airbag inflators are made available as expeditiously as possible from all possible sources.
TK Holdings, Inc. has also agreed to reimburse states for their investigative costs. The states agree to suspend a $650 million civil penalty for the bankrupt company, in order to maximize the amount of money available to victims of the airbag defects.