Last week, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced a settlement with TK Holdings, the U.S. subsidiary of Takata, over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to its airbag systems which were installed in a wide variety of vehicles.

Kelly Hubbard, Assistant Attorney General with the Office of Consumer Protection explained the deceptive nature of Takata’s claims that their airbags were safe.

“The materials used to inflate the airbags degraded over time, especially in humid climates, which caused the airbag to explode upon deployment and send metal shrapnel into the passenger department of cars,” said Hubbard. “Worldwide, 20 people died and hundreds were injured. Our investigation concluded that Takata knew about the problem and manipulated internal test results and lied to regulators about the safety of their airbags.”

Since Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection, Hubbard explained how Montana will benefit from this settlement.

“The State of Montana will not see any of that money from the settlement, because we chose not to prioritize our settlement money so that Takata could maximize the amount of money that went to the victims of the airbag defects,” she said. “The states however did get some injunctive relief. For instance, Takata cannot say that their products are safe unless that is supported by competent scientific evidence, and they cannot falsify or manipulate any testing data. They must also work with auto manufacturers to insure that replacement airbag inflators are provided as expeditiously as possible.”

Hubbard emphasized the one thing that consumers should do as quickly as possible.

“Right now, you should go to the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see if their vehicle is under recall, then contact a reputable dealership to arrange for the free replacement of the airbag inflator,” she said.
65 to 70 million airbags will need to be replaced across the country.

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