NHTSA investigation of faulty Takata airbag inflators surveyed

The Legal Examiner (12/5, Cohn) surveys the history of the NHTSA investigation into Takata-made airbag inflators, noting that NHTSA claims Takata “was aware of problems with its air bags as far back as 2004.” NHTSA further states that “in round numbers, nearly 1 in 10 driver inflator ruptures has resulted in death.”

Bloomberg News (12/6, Hagiwara, Trudell, 3.4M) reports that Takata Corp. “has lost the confidence of one of its biggest former shareholders, which said the company cut off access to management and downplayed risks as its air bags spurred a record auto-safety recall.” Sawakami Asset Management, “whose $2.6 billion stock fund beat the benchmark Topix index 12 of the past 15 years, sold the last of its Takata shares in early October,” before the NHTSA’s unprecedented crackdown on the company, the article reports. “We could not help feeling the management is not trustworthy,” fund manager Takahiro Kusakari said in an interview. “We felt Takata had a ‘we are needed and our products are needed, so the business will come back and the situation won’t be that bad’ kind of attitude, downplaying the issue,” he added.

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Nissan and Toyota Expand Takata-Related Recall to 6.5 Million More Vehicles

ABC World News (5/13, story 11, 0:20, Muir, 5.84M) reported that Nissan and Toyota expanded “that massive recall over defective air bags – 6.5 million vehicles, those air bags made by the embattled manufacturer Takata. This time, fears that the air bags will rupture in a crash.” The AP (5/14, Kageyama) reports Toyota said Wednesday that it would recall nearly five million “more vehicles globally for the air bag inflator problem.” About 637,000 are in the US. The recall “affects 35 models globally, including the Corolla subcompact, RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Tundra pickup, produced from March 2003 through November 2007.”
USA Today (5/14, Woodyard, Healey, 5.01M) reported the latest recalls “show the Takata bag problem continues to deepen.” NHTSA is fining Takata “$14,000 a day for failing to cooperate regarding its air bags in which the inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel.” Five US deaths have been “blamed on faulty Takata bags.”
The New York Times (5/14, Tabuchi, Soble, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reported “one source of concern has been the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, a cheap but powerful explosive that engineers say can destabilize if contaminated with moisture.” The inflator itself, “and whether it corrodes over time,” has also been a concern. The Times notes that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last month that Takata “was moving too slowly and his agency was reviewing options to speed up the recalls.”
The Los Angeles Times (5/14, 4.03M) reports that this is “different from an earlier problem with Takata air bag inflators that deployed with too much force, which has affected a range of automakers including Honda Motor Co., Chrysler, BMW and Ford Motor Co.”
Reuters (5/14, Kim, Saito), the Wall Street Journal (5/14, Fujikawa, Subscription Publication, 5.68M), and the Detroit Bureau (5/14) also have reports.

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GM Death Toll From Cars With Defective Ignition Switches Hits 100

The CBS Evening News (5/11, story 3, 2:20, Glor, 5.08M) reported, “Today the death toll from defective ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles reached 100 with at least 184 others injured.” The report said GM knew about the problem for over a decade but ordered the recall only last year. Reporter Jeff Glor spoke with a family of the earliest victims and said the Averills have until July 19 to accept GMs payment offer but if they don’t accept and choose legal action, “pursuing the old GM prior to their bankruptcy could be challenging.”

The New York Times (5/11, Vlasic, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports the death-toll from the faulty GM cars “far exceeds the 13 victims that G.M. had said last year were the only known fatalities” connected to ignitions that could suddenly shut off engine power and disable airbags. The Times says as the “number of victims mounts, the ignition-switch crisis is cementing its status as one of the deadliest automotive safety issues” in US history. The Times adds that Kenneth Feinberg, an independent compensation expert hired by G.M., has “made settlement offers to the families of people who died in the vehicles with faulty ignitions.”

The Detroit News (5/11, Shepardson, 523K) reports of the 184 injury claims that Feinberg has approved, “12 are for serious injuries and 172 are for less severe injuries.” The News says some Wall Street analysts have “speculated GM may have to pay a fine to resolve the investigations that could top $2 billion.” In May 2014 GM paid a $35 million fine to the NHTSA to resolve the safety agency’s investigation and “agreed to up to three years of intense monitoring.”

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FDA Bans Indian Pharmaceutical Firm From Exporting To US Because Of Quality Control Issues.

The Wall Street Journal (3/26, 5.67M) reported in its “Pharmalot” blog that the FDA banned the import of medicines from India-based pharmaceutical firm Aarti Drugs after it failed an FDA inspection last August. The agency’s inspection followed a warning letter the company received the previous year over several manufacturing standard violations at two Aarti facilities during a 2012 inspection. The plant is one of several from India that have faced similar bans.

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Nissan Increases Altima Recall To 640,000

The Chicago (IL) Tribune (3/9, Undercoffler, 2.42M) reported that Nissan has increased the number of 2013 Altimas involved in last year’s October recall from 220,000 to 625,000 in the US and 15,000 in Canada due to “a flaw that can cause the hood to fly open while the car is being driven.” The Tribune reported that Nissan does not currently have a fix to the issue but will attempt to mitigate the defect with a plan to “inspect and lubricate the potentially defective secondary latches free of charge at dealerships and will be notifying owners of affected vehicles.” Nissan is not yet aware of any injuries or accidents related to the defect.

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Chrysler Recalls 703,000 Vehicles Because Of Ignition-Switch Problems

Bloomberg News (3/8, Plungis, 2.94M) reported on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s “second recall of 703,000 minivans and SUVs with a defective ignition switch that can rotate out of position,” a problem similar to “the faulty General Motors Co. part tied to dozens of deaths.” NHTSA announced that the recall affects several models from the 2008-2010 years.

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Jury Finds For Plaintiff In J&J Mesh Lawsuit

Bloomberg News (3/5, 2.94M) reported that a jury in California ordered Johnson & Johnson on Thursday “to pay $5.7 million to a woman who said one of the company’s Abbrevo vaginal-mesh implants eroded inside her, forcing her to have surgery, in the first verdict over that device.” In the first verdict “to find fault with the Abbrevo sling,” jurors determined that the product “was defectively designed and officials of J&J’s Ethicon unit failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the device’s risks.”

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NHTSA Reports That GM And Honda Recalls Are Biggest In History

According to the USA Today (3/3, Healey, 10.32M), “two of the biggest auto recalls in history took place last year” citing the NHTSA summary of recall activity, referencing GM’s 5.8 million vehicle recall for faulty ignition switches and Honda’s 5.39 million vehicle recall for defective airbags. Fifty-seven deaths are linked to the GM defect so far, and could rise as more claims are evaluated. The Honda defect is linked to five deaths. The GM recall “provoked federal fines, lawsuits, government investigations, an embarrassingly candid internal probe at the automaker, Senate and House subcommittee hearings and an overhaul of how GM regards safety concerns.” The AP (3/3) reported that the two recalls make up “more than half of the record 64 million vehicles recalled last year.”

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Automobile Recalls Are Likely To Remain High in 2015

Relying on an automotive industry warranty and recall study from the financial advisory firm Stout, Risius and Ross, the Detroit Bureau (2/26) reported that automotive recalls in 2015 are likely to be higher than normal, though unlikely to reach 2014 figures. The Bureau adds that the forecast is unsurprising, because the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, “has already predicted it would happen,” as he hopes to double the size of the NHTSA investigative staff.

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Federal Regulators Want Dealers To Fix Recalled Vehicles

The AP (2/25, Krisher, Durbin) reported that currently, dealers and individual sellers are not legally required to repair recalled cars before the vehicle is sold. Sellers are not even obligated to notify buyers that a vehicle is subject to a recall. Later, the AP says that several attempts to pass legislation that requires dealers to fix recalled vehicles or “disclose problems have stalled under opposition from carmakers, auto dealers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” However, it adds that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx are “making another push.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “We cannot allow vehicles with potentially dangerous defects to leave used-car lots without the necessary repairs.”

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