Toyota, the parent company of Lexus, issuing a recall for over 42,000 Lexus vehicles sold in the United States. The move comes as the numbers of injuries and deaths linked to faulty Takata airbags continues to rise. Approximately one in five vehicles driven in America are equipped with the potentially dangerous Takata airbags produced by the Japanese manufacturer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges drivers of the Lexus SC430 with model years 2002 to 2005 to have the airbag components made by Takata fixed. Drivers are urged to contact their dealers.
Five deaths and hundreds of injuries are being reported across the country which are believed to be linked to Takata airbags exploding during accidents. The metal canisters which house the airbag inflators are suspected of rupturing during deployment, sending shards of metal at the vehicle’s driver and occupants. The defect can occur when the chemical propellant used to deploy the airbag is exposed to high levels of humidity allowing moisture to seep into the airbag housing and cause the chemicals to become unstable.
The Alpha and Beta model airbags at the center of the controversy were developed back in 2001 and replaced an earlier model airbag which was made with a more stable compound called tetrazole. Takata changed is design to have the airbags deployed with ammonium nitrate, a basic explosive, which can become unstable when exposed to elemental conditions such as humidity and rapid temperature changes. Takata engineers had warned of the potential risks at the Alpha and Beta models’ inception but were dismissed.
In 2004, Takata engineers at a company plant in Michigan performed secret tests during holidays and outside traditional work hours to determine the risks involved when the airbags were deployed. Takata testing engineers claim they showed the potential for malfunction. After three months of testing the research was suspended and the data collected was destroyed without being passed on to federal authorities.
In response to reports by the New York Times and Reuters of the Takata cover up the Senate Commerce Committee have just this week issued subpoenas to executives at Takata’s American division to appear before the committee. Takata executives acknowledged only three of the six, five of which took place in the U.S., but failed to commit to a nationwide recall of all vehicles equipped with the company’s airbags. Takata is also facing a criminal investigation into its possible cover up after it was also issued a subpoena by a grand jury in federal district court.
To date only the Lexus SC430 produced between 2002-2005 is under recall but the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is urging vehicle owners across the country to visit its website and enter their VIN to verify whether or not their car is part of the rapidly expanding recall.
The Cochran Firm’s Washington, D.C. office is actively investigating claims of drivers and passengers who were injured in their 2002-2005 Lexus SC430 when the Takata airbag failed to deploy properly. Our office has a team of dedicated and experienced product liability attorneys who are ready to hear your case. Our care reviews are free, prompt, and confidential and can be arranged by calling us at 202-682-5800 or by filling out a contact form. Strict deadlines apply so please contact us at your earliest convenience and preserve your rights.