U.S. Senator calls airbag supplier Takata Corp. to establish a fund to compensate victims

On June 23, 2015, U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal, asked Kevin Kennedy, the executive vice president for Takata’s North American affiliate, to establish a compensation fund for the victims of the ruptured airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation. The proposed compensation funds are sought to relieve the eight dead or about a hundred who have been injured due to the defective airbags supplied by Takata Corporation. The injuries were as a result of the air bags exploding when the cars crashed. Senator Richard Blumenthal seeks for the establishment of these compensation funds on parallel lines similar to that was created by General Motors in the wake of its ignition switch crisis. Senator Blumenthal opined,

“My view is that Takata is every bit as responsible for the eight deaths found so far as GM is for the 117 deaths and counting.”

Although Kevin Kennedy agreed to the fact that the number of deaths might grow gradually since many of those cars fitted with defective airbags were still in the field, he appeared reluctant to commit for the establishment of funds without prior consultation with his superiors. The tussle continued as the audit report of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed during the hearing that the corporation was hobbled with a series of systemic problems.

The recent development over the issue remains the same that the corporation denies the idea to establish fund to compensate victims of its defective airbags. In a letter dated July 7, 2015 to Senator Richard Blumenthal, the corporation maintained that- “Takata has already resolved a number of claims involving airbag ruptures and we intend to continue to discuss settlement of claims in appropriate cases going forward. At the present time, given the limited number of claims filed and the MDL procedures in place that permit the efficient coordination of related claims, Takata believes that a national compensation fund is not currently required.”[1] In addition, Mr. Kennedy stated, “we intend to give your suggestion further study and we will let you know if our thinking on this subject changes.” Senator Blumenthal released Takata’s letter to media and reacted saying – “Takata is apparently unwilling to acknowledge its responsibility for these tragic deaths and injuries, or do justice for victims and their loved ones,” he said. “I will press Takata to reconsider this callous misjudgment, and do right by the innocent victims of its harm.”[2]

[1] See Letter [Re: Hearing on “Update on the Recalls of Takata Air Bags and NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Efforts,” June 23, 2015, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation] at http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Takata%20Kennedy%20Letter%20to%20Sen%20%20%20Blumenthal%20%287%20July%202015%29.pdf



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