Sixteen Americans have lost their lives due to defective air bags and now we know what those lives were worth.
Japanese auto parts maker, Takata agreed to a $1 billion fine to settle criminal felony charges that the company concealed the defects in millions of air bag inflators over a 15-year period.
The decision occurred in a Detroit federal courtroom on the last day of February after Takata struck a deal with the Department of Justice.
The problem is in the ammonium nitrate-based airbag inflator. It causes the airbag to inflate with too much force, sending metal shards into the passenger cabin and its inhabitants.
In pleading guilty to criminal wrongdoing, Takata admitted it provided misleading test reports to automakers.
Included in the settlement is a $25 million criminal penalty and $125 million for victims. Also Takata must pay $850 million to the car companies as restitution.
Takata’s chief finance officer blamed the actions of certain employees as “deeply inappropriate.”
So far 42 million vehicles are being recalled in the U.S. Approximately 180 injuries have occurred along with the 16 deaths. All but one of the deaths occurred in Honda vehicles, reports Reuters.
Other automakers involved include Toyota, Ford, Nissan and BMW, which have conducted 31 million vehicle recalls over the issue since 2008.
All automakers purchased Takata airbags for their vehicles, despite their awareness that they posed a danger.
“These automakers acted recklessly by putting price ahead of consumer safety, says Eddie Farah of Farah & Farah.
Those six automakers are the subject of lawsuits by consumers who allege they kept using airbags they knew were defective.
Consumers should check NHTSA to find out if their vehicle is affected by the Takata air bag recalls.