Today, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced a settlement with TK Holdings, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Takata, over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to defective airbags.
Takata’s faulty airbags were installed in a wide variety of vehicles from 19 different automakers, which affect approximately 480,000 cars in Kentucky. At least 20 people have died worldwide and hundreds more have been injured as a result of the defective airbags.
The settlement, reached between the attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia and TK Holdings, Inc., concludes a multistate investigation into the company’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects associated with certain airbag inflators.
“Not only were the actions of this company in clear violation of Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act, they were in total disregard for the lives and safety of thousands of Kentucky families,” said Beshear. “We have worked hard with other state attorneys general to help those wronged by this faulty product and to hold the company accountable for their deceptive actions.”
Beshear said beginning in 2008, auto manufacturers issued recalls surrounding the airbag’s inflator, which over time could degrade and erupt in a crash, sending metal shards from the airbag throughout the passenger cabin.
To date, more than 50 million airbags in more than 37 million vehicles have been recalled. Counting anticipated recalls, the total number of affected airbags could reach around 65 or 70 million by 2019.
The multistate alleged that the company knew about several ruptures, which occurred as early as 2004, but appropriate action to recall these unsafe inflators did not occur until November 2014.
TK Holdings, Inc.’s parent company also pleaded guilty to manipulating testing data and submitting false and misleading reports to auto manufacturers.
Under the settlement, TK Holdings, Inc. and its successor, reorganized TK Holdings, shall comply with state and federal consumer protection laws and cooperate with auto manufacturers to ensure that replacement airbag inflators are made available as quickly as possible.
TK Holdings, Inc. has also agreed to reimburse the multistate for its investigative costs, and for the entry of stipulated civil penalty in the amount of $650 million. The multistate agreed that, given the pending bankruptcy and the company’s inability to pay its debts, this penalty would be subordinated in order to maximize the recovery available to consumers who were the victims of this airbag defect.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has approved the settlement.
Beshear’s office said Kentuckians who have suffered economic loss, not including personal injury or other property damage, can find information about a private class-action lawsuit at, https://www.autoairbagsettlement.com/en.
As a part of Takata’s plea with the Department of Justice, $125 million was set aside to compensate personal injury and wrongful death claimants. The website for consumers with questions about how to make a claim, may visit, http://www.takataspecialmaster.com/.
To see if a vehicle is subject to a recall, contact your automobile dealer and check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.