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Looking out for consumers' interests in the Takata case

A person would have had to have been out to sea without a paddle or a sail for years to be unaware of issues related to defective Takata air bags. For those who might be in that situation, here's the back-story.

Takata is a Japanese company that makes vehicle safety devices. They are installed in hundreds of millions of cars around the world, including here in Hawaii. A few years ago, it became apparent that the chemical concoction in some bag inflators had become unstable to a point where they could explode, sending shards of metal into passenger compartments. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed.

Hawaii joins the legal fray

It took a long time, but eventually investigators determined that the bag inflators could go bad due to age, exposure to high temperatures and humidity. This led to the recall of tens of millions of the units – a process that is expected to take years more to remedy. In the meantime, there are vehicles all over the world, and in Hawaii, carrying safety devices that could be potentially deadly.

Indeed, it is now apparent that devices subject to recall are finding their way back into the market through salvage yards. pulled from wrecks and put into rebuilt used cars, which are sold to unaware new owners.

Considering the conditions identified as contributing to this consumer hazard, it should come as no surprise that considered a prime location for disaster to strike. And it's in that light that Hawaii's Office of Consumer Protection has launched a suit naming Takata and three of the world's largest car manufacturers – Ford, Toyota and Nissan. The claim is that the companies knew, or should have known, about the defective bags for more than a decade, and failed to take action.

The faulty air bags are linked to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the U.S. None have occurred in Hawaii that officials know of, but the risk remains. So, while the suit proceeds, drivers are urged to check the federal government website dedicated to the issue and act to obtain free bag replacements as soon as possible.

And if you've suffered injury or loss of a loved one due to a defective device, contact an experienced attorney to learn your options.

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