“The testing revealed that the steel canisters used to house the airbag's rapid inflation system contained cracks that compromised its structural integrity,” according to the complaint. “Upon learning that information, Takata ordered its technicians to destroy all evidence of the test results, including video footage and computer backup files.”
The New York Times reported the alleged cover-up on Nov. 6. That article is cited in the court filing. Following the report, U.S. lawmakers including Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Edward Markey, D-Mass. and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called for a federal criminal investigation.
Kikko Takai, a spokeswoman for Takata in Tokyo, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman, said by email that the company hasn't yet received a copy of the complaint and declined to comment on it.
Among the Honda models affected were its 2001-07 Accord, 2001-05 Civic, its 2006 Ridgeline truck and its Acura 2003-06 MDX SUV and 2005 RL sedan, according to the complaint.
Honda and Takata considered the 2004 Alabama incident “an anomaly,” the suing consumers claim. Neither company alerted federal safety regulators or initiated a recall.
The consumers, each of whom bought a new or used Honda-made vehicle, are seeking to sue on behalf of anyone in the U.S. who purchased or leased one with defective Takata airbags, plus unspecified money damages and other relief.
The case is one of about a dozen seeking group status over claims that the defect has caused the value of cars to plummet. A panel of federal judges is weighing a request to consolidate the cases in a U.S. court in Miami.
The lawsuit is the second against Takata by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro L.L.P. of Seattle. The law firm was at the forefront of group litigation against Toyota Motor Corp. over unintended vehicle acceleration. That case ended in a $1.63 billion settlement.
This Bloomberg News report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.