Published: Wed, March 01, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Takata pleads guilty, agrees to pay $1B in faulty airbag probe

The hearing took place in a Detroit court.

Separately, three former executives are charged with falsifying test reports - they remain in Japan. Volkswagen is scheduled to appear in court to formally plead guilty, as a company, on March 10.

The Takata inflators are blamed for 16 deaths worldwide. He handled General Motors Co.'s ignition switch fund, as well as compensation for victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and BP Plc's 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill. That chemical can destabilize when exposed to moisture over time, leading to explosions, according to investigations by US officials, auto makers and Takata.

The attorneys allege the automakers knew about the defective airbag inflators for years but kept on using them.

Plaintiffs argue BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota were aware of unsafe inflator ruptures for years before recalls were issued. The executives were charged for falsifying test results in order to hide the defects that were linked to the massive recall of more than 100 million airbag inflators, according to Reuters.

Steeh rejected pleas by lawyers for plaintiffs in lawsuits against Takata and automakers to delay the sentencing.

The allegations against Honda (HMC), Toyota (TM), Ford (F), Nissan (NSANY) and BMW were made in a filing Monday with a federal court in Miami, which is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The automakers asserted in the court that Takata was the sole offender, and they were simply an unassuming party to a cover-up.

According to the filing, an airbag from Takata was described as a "killing weapon" by one of the manufacturers as early as 2009.

The plaintiff's filing Monday alleges that Honda, Takata's biggest customer, was involved in designing Takata inflators, and two of them exploded and ruptured at Honda facilities in 1999 and 2000. Toyota had quality concerns about Takata in 2003, while Ford ignored objections of its own inflator expert. "Takata abused the trust of both its customers and the public by allowing airbag inflators to be put in vehicles knowing that the inflators did not meet the required specifications".

"The conduct leading to today's plea was completely unacceptable", Nomura said. He also agreed that Takata would be sold or merge with another company.

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