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Honda reaches $85 million settlement over airbags

Missouri’s share is more than $1.6 million
Credit: AP
File photo

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, along with several other state attorneys general, announced an $85 million multistate settlement with Honda.

The settlement had to do with allegations Honda concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain Honda and Acura cars sold in the United States.

The systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation and were first installed in Honda cars in 2001, according to a press release.

A multistate investigation was conducted into allegations Honda failed to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags posed a “significant” risk to rupture. If the airbags rupture, it could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments, the release said.

The airbag ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and more than 200 injuries in the U.S.

“One of the most important functions of the Attorney General’s Office is to protect Missouri consumers, and a large part of that is holding companies, no matter how big, accountable for their actions that have harmed consumers,” said Schmitt. “My office will continue to work with other state attorneys general on consumer issues.”

The states said Honda engineers suspected the airbags propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst, the release said. Despite concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or officials, even as it began recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009.

Honda continued to tell customers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe.

Since 2008, Honda has recalled around 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the “suspect inflators,” according to the release.

Honda has agreed to “strong injunctive relief,” including:

  • Taking steps to ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
  • Adopting 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.

Honda has also agreed to pay the participating attorneys general more then $85 million. Missouri’s share is more than $1.6 million. 

Consumers who own a Honda or Acura are encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website or call (888) 234-2138 to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall.