Rutledge announces $85 million multistate airbag settlement with Honda
Attorney General: ‘ Honda knew these airbags were dangerous but used them in its vehicles anyway’
Attorney General’s Office LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today an $85 million multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc.
(Honda) over allegations that Honda concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbags installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States. The airbags were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and were first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.
“Honda knew these airbags were dangerous but used them in its vehicles anyway,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Such reckless disregard to protect consumers is unacceptable, and Honda is now paying the price for its misconduct.”
The settlement, reached between Honda and the attorneys general of 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, concludes a multistate investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags in many Honda and Acura vehicles posed a significant risk of rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartment. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States.
The states have alleged that Honda engineers were aware as early as 1999 that the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst.
Despite these concerns, Honda chose to use these airbags in its vehicles without adequately warning its consumers of the dangers the airbags posed. In fact, Honda continued to represent and advertise to consumers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe. Honda continued using these airbags until 2015, when the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration opened an investigation into Takata and several automobile manufacturers, including Honda, over the safety of these airbags and ordered widespread recalls of the airbags. Honda has since recalled approximately 12.9 million vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators, including over 81,000 vehicles in Arkansas. In 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a federal court case brought by the United States Department of Justice in relation to it falsifying test data about its airbags.
Under the consent judgment, filed in the circuit court of Faulkner County, Honda has agreed to the following terms:
• Ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
• Adopt changes to its procurement process for new frontal airbags, to ensure that its suppliers have the appropriate industry certifications and satisfy key industry performance standards, as well as improve record-keeping and parts tracking.
• Implementation of recurrence prevention procedures designed to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again, such as requiring that Honda approve all new frontal airbag designs before the company will consider them for use in new Honda vehicles.
• Prohibitions on misleading advertisements and point of sale representations regarding the safety of Honda’s vehicles, including the airbags.
• Making improvements in critical areas such as risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training and certifications, and implementing mandatory whistleblower protections.
Under the settlement terms, Honda will pay to the states a total of $84,151,210.15, of which Arkansas will receive $2,291,025.59, and pay an additional $1,000,000 to the National Association of Attorneys General Training and Research Institute Endowment Fund.
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at www.hondaairbaginfo. com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall.
Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to Safercar.gov. All safety recall repairs are FREE at authorized Honda dealers.
Consumers can also contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or ArkansasAG.gov with any questions about this settlement.
In addition to Arkansas the multistate group was also led by South Carolina, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, and Texas and included Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.