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Takata accepts guilty plea
See you in court: Lawyers for a number of US vehicle owners have alleged that some car-makers caught up in the Takata scandal were aware of the faulty inflator for years.
Questions hang over car-makers' knowledge of faulty inflator as Takata pleads guilty
28 February 2017
JAPANESE airbag manufacturer Takata has pleaded guilty to a felony charge in a
United States federal court as part of a $US1 billion ($A1.3b) settlement deal
made with the justice department that includes compensation funds for victims
of the faulty airbag inflators, and car-makers.
According to Reuters, US District Court judge George Steeh approved the
settlement, despite lawyers for the victims objecting to the settlement
identifying car-makers as victims of fraudulent activity.
The judge said that the car manufacturers could still be subject to civil
litigation for harm to individuals, as well as being identified as victims of
Takata’s decision to hide evidence over 15 years that its inflators were faulty.
The settlement allows Takata to be sold or restructured and with the penalties
locked in, the Japanese company is likely to step up its search for a buyer, or
a new financial backer.
>Reuters has reported that the judge considered imposing a harsher
sentence – the court guidelines allow for $US1.5b – but he approved the
settlement to ensure that Takata did not go bankrupt, which would delay the
replacement of millions of faulty inflators.
Takata’s chief financial officer Yoichiro Nomura appeared in court to accept
the plea agreement, saying: “I would like to sincerely apologise on behalf of
Lawyers representing US vehicle owners have alleged in separate US court
documents filed this week that at least four car-makers knew about the
defective Takata inflators for a number of years, but continued to use them.
The allegations are based on evidence gained from the car-maker’s own
documents, with some of the accused companies including Honda, Nissan, Ford and
According to The New York Times, the US justice department investigation
has depicted the car manufacturers as unwitting victims that were deceived by
Takata, which was manipulating safety data in a bid to conceal potentially
In a filing in a Florida court this week, car-makers highlighted Takata’s
guilty plea as confirmation that it was the Japanese parts-maker that was
solely to blame, but plaintiffs in the civil action are arguing that car
manufacturers were more involved in the handling of the inflator defect.
The exploding Takata airbag inflators have led to at least 16 deaths – all but
one in Hondas – with 10 manufacturers forced to recall 31 million vehicles
globally to fix the problem.
Last month Takata agreed to set up two independently administered funds, one
worth $US850 million ($A1.1b) to compensate car-makers for the massive number
of recalls and a second worth $US125m ($A162m) for people that were physically
injured by the faulty airbag inflators and who have not yet reached a
settlement with the company.
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