Takata Airbags Center of Auto Industry’s Biggest Recall

Defects, Products

Reyes Law Takata Airbags Center of Auto Industry’s Biggest Recall In the late 1990s, General Motors switched airbag suppliers from the Swedish-American company Autoliv to the much cheaper Japanese supplier, Takata.

Prior to the switch, GM asked Autoliv to match the cheaper design, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the G.M. account at the time.

But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata airbag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the airbag to expand.

“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.

Today, that compound is at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata. More than 100 million of its airbags have been installed in cars in the United States by General Motors and 16 other automakers.

“General Motors told us they were going to buy Takata’s inflaters unless we could make a cheaper one,” Ms. Rink said. Her team was told that the Takata inflaters were as much as 30 percent cheaper per module, she added, a potential savings of several dollars per airbag. “That set off a big panic on how to compete.”

Even with the record recall, deadly accidents and research critical of ammonium nitrate, Takata continues to manufacture airbags with the compound — and automakers continue to buy them. The airbags appear in the 2016 models of seven automakers, and they are also being installed in cars as replacement airbags for those being recalled.

A previous generation of airbags supplied to Nissan had the problem of deploying too forcefully and were linked to at least 40 eye injuries in the 1990s.

Takata began experimenting with alternative propellants but in the late ‘90s their inflater plant experienced a series of explosions that destroyed equipment and derailed production greatly. It was in front of this backdrop that Takata embraced the cheaper new compound, ammonium nitrate.

It was around this time the team at Autoliv was asked to study the Takata design.

“We tore the Takata airbags apart, analyzed all the fuel, identified all the ingredients,” he said. The takeaway, he said, was that when the airbag was detonated, “the gas is generated so fast, it blows the inflater to bits.”

Chris Hock, a former member of Mr. Taylor’s team, said he recalled carrying out testing on a mock ammonium nitrate inflater that produced explosive results that left his team shaken. “When we lit it off, it totally destroyed the fixture,” he said. “It turned it into shrapnel.”

These defective airbags made by Takata have been tied to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. The ensuing recall has turned out to be messy, confusing and frustrating for car owners.

Affected Automakers: BMW, Chrystler, Mazda, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, G.M. and Ferrari.

Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas defective product lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.

Thanks to: The New York Times

Jury Awards Over $12 Million in Johnson & Johnson Mesh Trial


Yesterday, a Philadelphia jury ruled Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay an injured woman $5.5 million in compensatory damages for its negligence over the defectively designed Prolift pelvic mesh. Today, the jury also awarded her $7 million in punitive damages – a sum intended to punish Johnson & Johnson for having marketed an unsafe product.

This was the second product liability trial involving Prolift mesh, one of the most widely used pelvic meshes produced. The first Prolift trial of Linda Gross in 2013 resulted in a $11.1 million ruling for Ms. Gross but did not find the mesh was defective in its design. That verdict is still under appeal.

In the two-week Philadelphia trial of Patricia Hammons (64) of Indiana, the jury found for the plaintiff on all claims; defective design, a failure to warn doctors about its dangers, negligence in manufacturing, and in bringing Prolift to market.

Attorneys for Ms. Hammons were Shanin Specter of the law firm Kline & Specter and Adam Slater of the law firm Mazie Slater. Plaintiff attorney Adam Slater says he is not settling his clients, and intends to take their cases to verdict. ”J & J has displayed an attitude so far that they don’t care what the jury says, they don’t care what the judge says, they’re bigger than everyone else. They do things on J&J’s terms. That’s my impression of them.” said Slater.

Attorney Shanin Specter (Kline & Specter) said the Prolift pelvic mesh implant has too much mesh which causes scar tissue, mesh contraction and erosion. “The amount of mesh could stretch across two-and-a half football fields”, he told jurors. Ms. Hammons suffers mesh erosion into her bladder and excruciating pain during sex or dyspareunia. The mesh was found to have folded under her bladder and repeated surgeries have caused a shortened vagina.

The defense team blamed pain during sex on the plaintiff’s hysterectomy she underwent in 2009 and additional prolapsing of her small bowel and uterus. “Prolift had nothing to do with the fact she later developed the bowel prolapse”, said Specter.

Ethicon removed Prolift from the market three years ago after the U.S Food and Drug Administration required it to do three year post-approval monitoring for its effects on women. If you or a loved one has suffered due to transvaginal mesh related injuries, contact the legal team at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm to confidentially discuss your legal rights and mesh removal options.


Mesh Medical Device News Desk


Takata Airbag Recall – Everything you need to know

One of the largest consumer product safety recalls in US history is under way, larger even than the Tylenol scare in the 1980’s, and it could directly put the safety of you and your family at risk as soon as your next trip in your automobile.

Over 34 million automobiles are being recalled due to containing potentially deadly airbags manufactured by the Takata Company of Japan. It’s been shown that the inflation device that launches the airbag in the event of a collision, a combustible, metal cartridge that contains inflatable wafers, can explode without warning and has caused seven deaths and dozens of injuries to automobile drivers and passengers. When an airbag’s inflator cartridge explodes it can spray the cabin of an automobile with sharp metal and sharp hard plastic shards. This product malfunction has caused many needless deaths, 8 and counting, and dozens of serious injuries to the occupants of an automobile’s cabin to their neck, eyes, and faces.

Takata Airbag Failure Fatalities

35-year-old Carlos Solis was killed while driving his Honda Accord when the driver-side airbag inflator ruptured. Local Houston Sheriff’s Department Accident Investigators reported that this accident was merely a bumper to bumper fender bender and the other passengers in the vehicle were uninjured. The car’s driver Solis was killed by the unnecessary deployment of the vehicles Takata air bag.

A California women, Jewel Brangman, died as a result of injuries incurred from an automobile accident when the deployment of her driver’s side airbag included metal fragments from the device’s inflator mechanism. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that rented the car to her, a 2001 Honda Civic, claiming that the company knew of the automobile’s dangers and recall, ignored them, and rented the car to her anyway.

Kylan Langlinais, 22 years old, from Lousiana was killed under suspicious circumstances as a result of her airbag deploying with excessive force including with the airbag metal shrapnel that caused her death. Bloomberg.com reported that she received a recall notice in the mail for her 2005 Honda Civic two days after her fatal accident.

These are just three of the seven or so currently-known fatalities surrounding the deployment of Takata airbags that includes many dozens of serious injuries. Honda Motors is not the only company whose motor vehicles contain faulty Takata airbags. Other companies, Acura, Lexus, BMW, Mazda, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Nissan, Ford, Subaru, General Motors, Pontiac Saab, Toyota, and Infiniti have issued recalls to owners of their vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2014. After looking up if your vehicle has been subject to the recall you need to take the recommended immediate action to insure that you do not become a victim of this most serious and potentially deadly product malfunction.

In order to find out if your vehicle is subject to the recall, check it’s VIN, vehicle identification number usually located on the dash board on the drivers side and it is visible from the outside of the car looking in. You can also find this number on your automobile registration card and insurance card which should be in your car’s glove box. When you have written down that number, visit http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Owners/vin-lookup-sites and enter the number.

Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm is Dallas’ preeminent personal injury law firm representing clients that have been injured and the families of those killed by the negligence of others due to defective Takata airbag deployments and other product malfunctions. Our expert DFW product liability attorneys will help you get the justice you and your loved ones deserve. If you or someone you care about has been in an airbag failure accident, please call us at 214-526-7900 or fill out our Case Review Contact Form to the right on this page to find out what your case is worth.

Takata Finally Recalls Faulty Airbags

Auto Accidents, Defects

takata-faulty-airbag-national-recall-300x200On Tuesday November 18, federal safety regulators asked automakers to recall any and all vehicles equipped with faulty Takata manufactured airbags. Urged by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this recall expands past states and territories with high humidity to include any and all car owners who own a vehicle believed to have one of the Takata airbags that have been tested as faulty. The administration has yet to determine exactly which makes and models are affected, but says multiple automakers need to uphold responsibility to keep drivers safe.

Takata manufacturing has recently come under fire for faulty airbags that they neglected to report for more than four years. The airbags have been the cause of hundreds of injuries and multiple deaths over the past few years, causing federal safety administrations to take actions. The airbags in question spew metal fragments from propellant canisters when triggered, causing severe harm to some.

More than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers have been recalled worldwide since 2008 in regards to Takata manufactured airbags. At this point, five deaths have been linked to the faulty airbags. In October, the federal safety regulators had urged car owners to have their vehicles inspected or fixed, only for car owners to discover that the parts they needed replaced were not available.

The nationwide recall for airbags comes after learning that moisture is not the only factor in determining whether or not the faulty airbags will explode. Previously, it was believed humid climates had an effect on the nature of the airbags, but a case in 2007 that occurred in North Carolina proved that high-humidity may have an affect on likelihood of the danger but isn’t the only determining factor.

At this point, automakers seem compliant to meet the agency’s request to recall any and all vehicles affected by Takata airbags. While the recent recall only covers driver’s side airbag, it is a step in the right direction towards ensuring all drivers are being looked out for when they are involved in an accident.

Airbag Maker Takata Hid Risks for 10 Years

Defects, In The News

takata-hid-airbag-defects-10-years-300x200Automotive airbag manufacturer Takata may have hidden knowledge of airbag defects for over a decade, becoming a fatal issue. In the past few months, 11 different automakers have more than 14 million vehicles in relation to airbag rupture risks. The risks mentioned are caused by the steel canisters in airbags cracking, which can lead to a rupture that throw metal fragments towards passengers and drivers when the device deploys. The recent recalls have been tied to 4 deaths. Takata stated in regulatory filings that it began testing airbags for this issue in November 2008, but former employees of Takata admit to being involved in tests on the same issue in 2004, which Takata never filed.

The steel canisters house a propellant compound commonly found in fertilizer that helps to inflate the airbag when it is triggered. Automakers have received complaints that total in 139 injuries regarding the airbag malfunction, 37 of which reported the airbags rupturing and spewing chemicals or metal fragments. Takata supplies approximately one fifth of all airbags on the global market, and automakers have come forward stating their concerns that Takata is at fault when it comes to their malfunctioning airbags.

Former Employees Come Forward

Former employees of Takata have recently come forward saying that although there were no filings of tests until 2008, tests were performed on the same issue in 2004. The former employees, who combined have more than four decades of experience with the company, were concerned Takata was not releasing all the necessary information to keep drivers safe.

According to the former employees, Takata performed secret tests, which took place after normal business hours and on holidays or weekends in 2004 at the company’s American headquarters in Auburn Mills, MI. During the tests, two of the steel canisters cracked, which can lead to dangerous ruptures. After the test concluded, the employees state that Takata executives discounted the results and ordered lab technicians to delete testing data from their computers.

Spokespersons for automaker Honda said in 2004 they were assured by Takata that an incident with the airbags that had occurred was an anomaly and there was no issue with the airbags. Takata has refused to make a statement on the claims at this point. These recent claims as well as others involving the quality of manufacturing, delivery and Takata’s overall handling of airbag issues has put the company in the forefront of the chaotic recalls happening with automakers.

Automakers and parts manufacturers have a duty to report any and all safety concerns they find with their products. Companies that hide their mistakes like Takata have put others at risk and make themselves responsible when their products cause harm or danger to others.

If you’ve been in an accident involving airbag failure or defects, please get in touch with our skilled Dallas defective product attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley. Please contact us right away for a free case review.

Arlington Becomes Latest Municipality to Halt Use of ET-Plus Guardrails

11052014A false-claims lawsuit is in progress after whistleblower claims state that the ET-Plus guardrail systems were modified before installation, causing an impalement hazard when vehicles strike the devices. Therefore, Arlington, along with other Texas municipalities, has suspended installation of the guardrail systems until a lawsuit is settled and further testing is conducted.

Trinity Industries, the Dallas-based manufacturers of the system, remain adamant that the system is approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA); although, it has ceased shipment of any new systems until new safety testing can be completed as per request of the FHA.

The ET-Plus guardrail system is found on the ends of at least 12 guardrails in locations along Arlington highways. According to Texas Department of Transportation, there are no plans to remove existing guardrail systems, as they’re still approved for use.

As previously reported, the ET-Plus systems have caused several known injuries in the past several years, resulting in multiple lawsuits against Trinity Industries. While it’s impossible for drivers to avoid striking a guardrail in most car accident cases, drivers can exercise more caution when traveling on highways with guardrails. Stay in the center lanes of the highway and avoid riding too close to the guardrails when on the far lanes.

Image courtesy nbcDFW

Defective CareFusion 203 EnVe and ReVel Respiratory Ventilators Recalled


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a class I recall of over 100 lot numbers of CareFusion 203 ventilators after a power connection failure was observed in over 250 incidents. Reports list EnVe and ReVel models losing power and shutting off caused by a misalignment of pins where the external power connector meets the input port of the ventilator.

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10 Brands of Baby Wipes Recalled Nationwide Due to Bacterial Contamination

10282014The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released notice of a voluntary recall and consumer notice nationwide for 10 brands of baby wipes manufactured by Nutek Disposables, Inc.

The recall was initiated after Nutek received complaints of discoloration and unusual odor coming from certain lots of wipes. Microbial testing conducted by Nutek revealed Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) – a bacterial contamination in the abnormal wipes. After testing additional lots, Nutek made the announcement that they would voluntarily recall all of its baby wipe products.

The 10 brands of baby wipes affected by the recall are as follows:

  • Cuties.
  • Diapers.com.
  • Femtex.
  • Fred’s.
  • Kidgets.
  • Member’s Mark.
  • Simply Right.
  • Sunny Smiles.
  • Tender Touch.
  • Well Beginnings.

The wipes were sold at the following retailers before October 21, 2014:

  • Walgreens.
  • Sam’s Club.
  • Family Dollar.
  • Fred’s.
  • Diapers.com.

B. cepacia poses little risk to healthy people, but can infect people with weakened immune systems. Nutek received a complaint of irritation from the original investigation and recall and has since received several other complaints of rash, gastro-intestinal issues, fever, respiratory issues, and infections. Though, these latter reports have not been confirmed to be connected to the use of Nutek baby wipes.

Consumers who purchased any of the potentially contaminated brands of Nutek wipes can return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Nutek is also taking consumer questions by phone at 1-855-646-4351, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EDT.

Did You Know?: Despite newborn babies immature immune systems, they most likely can fight of illnesses and diseases – thanks to the mother’s antibodies that the baby inherited in the womb.

However, it’s advised to take extra precaution around babies so they don’t get sick, such as:

  • Washing your hands before holding a baby.
  • Keep baby away from ill people.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Disinfect play area, toys, etc.
  • Always do your research before purchasing a baby product.

7.8 Million Takata Airbags Recalled Due to Ruptured Airbag Inflators

airbag-300x199A national recall has been issued for 7.8 million vehicles containing defective models of Takata airbag inflators. The defective inflators cause the airbag to explode and in several instances send shrapnel into the passenger cabin. At least four deaths and dozens of injuries have been attributed to the faulty airbags, which have been in use in vehicle model years from 2000 to 2011.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging the following vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices to owners whose vehicles are potentially affected by the defective airbags.

  • BMW
  • Chrysler
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Mazda
  • Nissan
  • Mitsubishi
  • Subaru
  • Ford
  • General Motors

The defect has been traced to a problem with the airbag deployment system which becomes defective when exposed to high humidity and temperatures. Vehicle owners in areas with high humidity such as Florida, Puerto Rico, and areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico such as southeast Texas should contact their dealership immediately to learn if their vehicle is part of the recall.

Recall notices are going out to owners now, but these letters do not always arrive at the recalled vehicle’s current owner. Secondhand vehicles are often unaccounted for during mailed recall notifications, so it is important for used car owners to research their model on safercar.gov to see if any recalls have been issued in the past. If an issue exists with your vehicle, bring it to your local dealership for an inspection to make sure the problem was addressed or to request a repair or replacement.

A full list of the defective vehicle models included in the recall can be found on the NHTSA’s consumer advisory notice. If you believe your vehicle was included in this recall or you receive a recall notice in the mail, contact your local dealership immediately to schedule a repair of the defective airbag system.

Texas Highway Guardrails Found Unsafe According to Study by The Safety Institute

10072014The Safety Institute released the results of a study conducted on the ET-Plus® guardrail system using crash data from Missouri and Ohio that shows the system is more likely to cause injury and death than prevent it.

In fact, in the past decade, several victims have filed lawsuits against the company for defective and unreasonably dangerous products, claiming the guardrails are causing more harm than help.

Victims such as Aaron Rausche, who was severely injured when his vehicle drifted off the road and was impaled, which caused severe damage to his legs. And Lisa Antonicelli, who had a seizure while driving on Highway 80 near Mesquite and hit a guardrail that tore through her car. She sustained major injuries that left her as a paraplegic.

Trinity has filed responses to all of the lawsuits and denied the allegations, citing that its’ system is federally approved for use.

Despite the recent revelation, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman told local news stations that the state of Texas doesn’t plan to stop using the Trinity system, but will continue to monitor its performance to determine if further action is necessary.

In the meantime, drivers should take extreme caution to reduce the risk of needing to encounter the guardrail systems by remaining alert and focused on the roads at all times, such as getting enough sleep before driving, know your surroundings, and always keep your eyes on the road.

Image courtesy myFoxDFW