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Takata reaches airbag settlement with states, including Virginia

Airbags have become a standard safety feature on modern automobiles, but one airbag manufacturer, Takata, made air bags that increased the hazards of a collision. After being sued by 44 states, including Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Takata has agreed to pay $650 million to these states in settlement of their product liability claims.

Takata used ammonium nitrate to inflate the airbags in the event of a collision. Unfortunately, ammonium nitrate deteriorates over several years if it is exposed to high humidity. The deterioration causes the ammonium to burn too fast, and instead of inflating an airbag, the cylinder holding the ammonium nitrate shatters and sprays metal fragments throughout the passenger compartment. Several deaths and many injuries have been attributed to the defect.

Takata initially denied the defect, and it concealed test results that indicated otherwise. When the evidence became undeniable, and after being stuck with several large jury verdicts, Takata recalled nearly 34 million airbags and filed bankruptcy in the United States. The recall is the largest in the history of the American automotive industry. For the moment, the states will not receive any cash from the settlement so that Takata can use its remaining assets to satisfy the claims of persons who have been injured by a defective airbag.

Anyone who believes they or a loved one may have been injured by a defective Takata airbag may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling product liability claims. An experienced lawyer can provide a helpful analysis of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages against Takata's bankruptcy estate.

Source: Washington Post, "States reach a $650 million settlement over exploding Takata air bags," Ashley Halsey III, Feb. 22, 2018

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