Defective Takata airbags are reportedly being replaced at a rate of 75,000 per week in recalled vehicles, but finding some of these recalled parts for testing and investigation may be increasingly difficult.
On Jan. 30, 2015, Motley Rice attorneys filed a reply in support of an emergency motion for preservation of evidence with U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs of South Carolina, noting that the current Takata recall process involves returning all removed airbag inflators to Takata for testing, including airbags from accident vehicles. This action, according to the motion, "could compromise the inflators' integrity and future evidentiary value, and they could be misplaced, lost or destroyed."
This lack of availability also makes it difficult, if not impossible, for victims' representatives to conduct testing on the inflators independent of Takata. It also could potentially affect what information will be available in legal proceedings.
In order to preserve this necessary evidence for future testing by all parties involved, the motion asks for an Order requiring Takata defendants to:
Send back to the United States any "ruptured inflators" from accident or field vehicles that were previously sent to Takata and/or Honda so that they can be secured and preserved in their unaltered form.
Secure and preserve all testing data, video, photographs, test results, electronic files and communications regarding Takata's testing of the inflators in their unaltered form.
Set aside 10 percent of all "un-ruptured" airbag inflators that are currently in possession of Honda and Takata.
Set aside 10 percent of any additional "un-ruptured" inflators that come into possession of Honda and Takata as of the Order date so that they can be preserved until further notice.
This action was referenced by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson, Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey in a letter sent to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind on Jan. 30, 2015. In their letter, the senators ask that the NHTSA "allow third parties to access the inflators so that they can conduct independent testing and analysis," noting not only the shipping of removed recalled parts to Takata for testing, but also that the NHTSA is not conducting any independent testing of its own.
"This is a classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse," the Senators state, "and it should be remedied immediately."
Motley Rice attorney Kevin Dean, who is representing people harmed by recalled Tataka airbags, was interviewed by Bloomberg news. Read the full article: Takata Victim Lawyers Seek Access to Recalled Air Bags.
Read the Emergency Motion requesting the preservation of evidence.
Read the letter to NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson, Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey.
Learn more about lawsuits involving recalled Takata airbags.