Hawaii sues over deadly airbag defect, alleging cover-up cost lives

State files suit over airbags
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is suing Japanese auto parts maker Takata, alleging it knew about a deadly airbag defect but failed to act to save lives.

Hawaii is the first state to file such a lawsuit in the ongoing faulty airbags scandal.

The suit also names Honda Motor Co., and seeks a $10,000 penalty for every affected car owner in Hawaii, a campaign to educate drivers about the need to seek repairs, and restitution for car buyers.

Hawaii is one of four states that was the original focus of recalls surrounding the Takata airbags. About 70,000 cars with the faulty airbags have been sold to Hawaii residents.

"Companies that supply and market goods to Hawaii consumers are obligated to deliver products that are safe and to provide consumers with full, accurate, and timely information when dangers become known," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection, in a news release.

In the complaint filed Friday, the state alleges Takata knowingly used cheaper materials in its airbags, even though its own testing found that doing so could put drivers at risk in the event of a crash. Worse, Takata engineers knew that head and humidity could further compromise the safety of the airbags.

At least a dozen people have been killed by faulty Takata airbags that exploded, sending shrapnel through the vehicle. More than 100 have been injured.

The state says Takata knew as far back as 2004 that its airbags were "injuring and killing people," but did nothing.

The suit also alleges that Takata hid its findings and doctored data to hide the dangers of its airbags.

Additionally, the state said that even when Honda became aware of the problems with the Takata airbags, it continued to sell cars with them and "inadequately pursued recalls — saving money while subjecting consumers to an ongoing risk of serious injury and death," a news release said.

Nationally, according to federal data, only one-third to half of affected airbags have been repaired or replaced.

For more information on the Takata recall, contact your dealer or click here.


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