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Companies Behaving Badly Part 4: General Motors Refusing Takata Recall

On Monday, we began a week long feature on our blog about major companies and organizations that engaged in poor corporate conduct. The list of these companies and their bad deeds are courtesy of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), a group committed to preserving Americans right to a trial by jury. The list, officially titled “Worst Corporate Conduct of 2018” can be found here.

Today’s focus is on General Motors and their refusal to recall their newer model cars equipped with Takata airbags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Roughly 37 million vehicles equipped with 50 million defective Takata air bags are under recall. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these air bags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths.” NHTSA also says that an additional 15-20 million airbags will be recalled by December of this year.

To date, at least 24 people have died from defective Takata airbags and nearly 300 have been injured.

Read below to find out what, exactly, landed GM on the bad businesses list.

GM Claims Their Takata Airbags Are Safer
GM has petitioned the NHTSA multiple times to avoid recalling recently manufactured vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The most recent petition, filed in January 2018, says that newer model GM cars with Takata airbags underwent extensive safety testing in 2016 and that their airbags “which have not ruptured in the field or in ballistic testing, will continue to operate safely for decades, even in the highest temperature and humidity regions.” They noted that airbags present in their competitors’ vehicles malfunctioned under the same test conditions.

GM’s petition also describes how the company had Takata airbags custom made for their newer model vehicles, which included using unique safety features that the company demanded in order for the airbags to meet their “stringent validation requirements.” Some of these safety features were found to provide some benefit over other Takata airbags during the 2016 testing of GM airbags, but not all of them.

At issue here is the fact that a large number of older model GM cars are on the recall list issued by the NHTSA. GM has recalled the following cars:

  • 2007–2008 Chevy Silverado HD
  • 2007–2008 GMC Sierra HD
  • 2003–2010 Pontiac Vibe
  • 2008–2009 Saturn Astra
  • 2005-2006 Saab 9-2X
  • 2006-2011 Saab 9-3
  • 2006-2009 Saab 9-5

The company says that anyone driving these cars can take their vehicle to a dealership to be repaired for free. But drivers of non-recalled GM cars manufactured during those same time periods are nervous. How can they be sure that their car received the different, safer airbag that GM claims it demanded of Takata? Why did some cars receive a defective airbag while others received an allegedly safer one?

GM has also publicly admitted that part of their desire to keep their newer model vehicles off a recall list is financially motivated. By avoiding a recall, the company would save close to $1 billion dollars.

Injuries From Defective Car Parts 
If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective Takata airbag or other malfunctioning part of a vehicle, the personal injury attorneys of Chicago-based Levin & Perconti can help. Since 1992, we have recovered over half a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including a large number of verdicts and settlements in car accident and defective products cases. Contact us now for a free consultation at 877-374-1417, in Chicago at 312-332-2872 or by completing our online case evaluation form.

To find out if you are driving a car with a defective airbag under recall, please click here.