At least five settlements have been reached between Takata Corporation and plaintiffs claiming injury or death from allegedly faulty airbags, but the accords are sealed, which means other claimants cannot access valuable information.
The cases were likely settled secretly in an attempt to shield future plaintiffs from gathering enough information to build a case against the Japanese part supplier or any number of automakers that utilized Takata’s defective airbags.
The quick, secret deals, a cornerstone of product liability litigation across industries, help explain why years after the first recalls so much remains unknown about defects linked to four U.S. deaths. The few cases filed have generally been resolved before victims’ lawyers acquired evidence.
As an overarching theme of the entire debacle, the secrecy which shrouds these settlements only adds to the confusion of what is actually happening with the Takata recall. Many drivers are left unsure whether their vehicle has been affected because, although at least 10 auto manufacturers are involved, it is difficult to say which vehicles were fitted with Takata’s devices, or whether those airbags were part of the defective group.
In Florida, a lawsuit filed by the family of 51-year-old Hien Tran claims that the airbag in the Honda Accord exploded with so much force that police initially believed she was stabbed to death. The suit further claims that Honda’s failure to respond to earlier safety complaints regarding the airbags ultimately led to Tran’s death.
Takata is currently under investigation by federal regulators for allegations that it destroyed evidence of airbag failures that it discovered during secret testing. A spokesperson for the company claims the allegations have no merit.
If you or a loved one was injured by a Takata airbag, let Riddle & Brantley help you assert your rights. You deserve justice, and we always fight for the maximum amount of compensation available.
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