Honda Agrees to Substantial Changes That Will Protect Consumers
New York State Awarded More Than $3 Million Alone
New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a $85 million multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. (Honda), over allegations that Honda concealed safety failures in the airbags of certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States. The settlement — reached between a coalition of 48 attorneys general and Honda — concludes a multistate investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers of issues related to the significant risk of rupture in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain model cars, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of many Honda and Acura vehicles. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States alone.
“We’re holding Honda to account and sending a message that placing profits over safety will never be accepted,” said Attorney General James. “Airbags are supposed to keep drivers and passengers safe, but Honda’s manufacturing defect and their hiding of the facts led to deaths and injuries. Today’s settlement will not only guarantee Honda replaces all remaining defective airbags on the road, but that the company takes specific actions to ensure any future defect is thoroughly made public in the future to avoid this type of danger.”
In the complaint, the states alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant (ammonium nitrate) could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst. Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009. Further, despite these concerns, Honda continued to represent to consumers that its vehicles — including its airbags — were safe. Since 2008, Honda has recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the defective inflators.
Under the terms of today’s consent judgment — filed in New York County State Supreme Court — Honda has agreed to strong injunctive relief, including:
- Taking steps to ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
- Adopting changes to its procurement process for new frontal airbags to ensure that its suppliers have the appropriate industry certifications and satisfy key industry performance standards, as well as to improve record-keeping and parts tracking.
- Implementing recurrence prevention procedures — such as requiring that Honda approve all new frontal airbag designs before the company considers them for use in new Honda vehicles — in an effort to prevent tragedies that led to these deaths and injuries from happening again.
- Prohibiting misleading advertisements and point of sale representations regarding the safety of Honda and Acura’s vehicles, including in the automobiles’ airbags.
- Making improvements in critical areas for the company, including risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, and training and certifications, as well as implementing mandatory whistleblower protections at the company.
Honda also agreed to pay the participating 48 attorneys general a total of $85 million in fines, of which New York’s share is $3,385,945.
The systems subject of today’s settlement were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and were first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.
The states specifically allege that Honda’s actions — or its failures to act — as well as its misrepresentations about the safety of its vehicles, were unfair and deceptive, and that Honda’s conduct violated state consumer protection laws, including New York’s Executive Law § 63(12) and New York General Business Law § 349.
Under a separate class action settlement, Honda customers are entitled to full restitution for any damages or injuries that occurred as a result of the defective airbags, or to reimburse for the cost of previous replacement of Honda or Acura airbags at a non-authorized Honda dealer. Customers can learn more about the class action settlement by visiting the class action settlement website at www.AutoAirbagSettlement.com/en/Honda. Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at HondaAirbagInfo.com or call its customer service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138 to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to www.SaferCar.gov. All safety recall repairs are FREE at authorized Honda dealers. Consumers can also contact the Office of the Attorney General with any questions about this settlement by calling (800) 771-7755.