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Airbag Investigation Announced

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Washington, DCFollowing a year in which airbag recalls and defective airbags have been in the news repeatedly comes an announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it is opening an investigation into a Nissan airbag recall. Meanwhile, more airbag lawsuits have been filed concerning the Takata airbag recall, which affected millions of vehicles worldwide.

Bloomberg (3/22/15) reports that the NHTSA opened its investigation into Nissan on March 18, 2015, after receiving more than 120 complaints linked to a Nissan airbag recall. Consumers have complained that despite the recall, which was initially announced in April 2014, problems with the airbags have persisted, putting vehicle occupants at risk of injury. The issue reportedly involves software incorrectly reading the front passenger seat as empty, when in fact an adult is sitting in that seat. By reading the seat as empty, the software may prevent the airbag from deploying in an accident, causing injury to the seat’s occupant.

A spokesperson for Nissan told Bloomberg that it believed the issue had been appropriately dealt with. Almost one million Nissan vehicles were recalled in 2014 to fix the problem with the software.

Meanwhile, the Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Honda announcing an expansion of its recall. The Takata recalls are linked to airbags deploying with too much force, sending metal debris into the vehicle’s cabin and putting occupants at risk of injury.

According to the New York Times (3/20/15), more than 6.2 million Honda and Acura vehicles in the US have been affected by the Takata airbag recall, with more than 18 million vehicles from major automobile companies recalled in the US. So far, six deaths have been linked to the airbags.

Takata now faces fines of $14,000 a day for not cooperating with the NHTSA’s investigation into airbag flaws. In a letter to Takata, the NHTSA accused the airbag supplier of not responding truthfully to orders to hand documents over to the safety regulator. Takata has said it is fully cooperating with the NHTSA.

The company faces lawsuits in the US and Canada linked to faulty airbags. Among the lawsuits are claims for vehicle depreciation due to the faulty airbags, and claims linked to injuries allegedly caused by defective airbags.

Among lawsuits in the US are those consolidated for multidistrict litigation. Those are under In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2599, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).


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