Takata Corp. and 15 automakers have been sued by New Mexico’s attorney general for failing to protect consumers from exploding air bags.
Takata and the carmakers have endangered hundreds of thousands of New Mexico residents by misrepresenting the existence and the extent of the defect, Attorney General Hector Balderas said Tuesday in a statement.
The carmakers sued include Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp., according to the complaint in the state court in Santa Fe.
The faulty Takata devices have been the subject of the largest product recall in history, expected to reach more than 100 million air bags. The bags, which can explode and spew shrapnel into car occupants, have been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide.
Takata spokesman Jared Levy on Tuesday declined to comment on the New Mexico lawsuit. The case was filed a week after Takata agreed to pay $1 billion and to plead guilty to a fraud charge to settle a U.S. investigation over the air bags.
Takata’s settlement with the U.S. includes a $25 million criminal fine with the rest going to compensation for injured individuals and to vehicle manufacturers. Three former Takata executives were indicted for their alleged roles in hiding the risks since 2000.
The New Mexico attorney general accuses Takata of violating the state’s unfair trade practices act by producing air bags that “were unreasonable and positively dangerous,” and concealing knowledge of these defects.
Takata had “a duty to ensure that its air bag systems worked safely and as intended,” Balderas said in the lawsuit filed Friday. “Takata failed in its duty.”
The automakers also failed to meet a duty to ensure their vehicles are safe, the state said.