Attorney General Ellison announces $85 million multistate settlement with Honda
Minnesota joins group of 48 states and territories in holding Honda accountable for using defective Takata airbags in its vehicles; Honda to pay Minnesota $1.5 million
August 26, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced a more than $85 million multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. over allegations that Honda concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States. The systems 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 settlement, reached between Honda and the attorneys general of 48 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, concludes a multistate investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags posed a significant risk of rupture, 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 more than 200 injuries in the United States alone.
Minnesota’s share of the settlement is approximately $1.5 million.
“All Minnesotans should be able to trust that that the cars they buy and drive are safe and reliable. That’s basic to affording your life and living with dignity, safety, and respect. But Honda falsely touted the safety of their cars despite the massive safety hazard the airbags in its vehicles presented, then failed to make sure all affected vehicles were promptly recalled,” Attorney General Ellison said. “By reforming Honda’s practices and holding the company accountable for its misconduct, this settlement is a win for Minnesotans.”
Under the terms of the consent judgment, which will be filed with the Ramsey County District Court, Honda has agreed to strong injunctive relief, including:
- Take steps to ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
- Adopt 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 improve record-keeping and parts tracking.
- Implementation of recurrence-prevention procedures designed to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again, such as requiring that Honda approve all new frontal airbag designs before the company will consider them for use in new Honda vehicles.
- Prohibitions on misleading advertisements and point-of-sale representations regarding the safety of Honda’s vehicles, including the airbags.
- Making improvements in critical areas such as risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training, and certifications, and implementing mandatory whistleblower protections.
Allegations Against Honda
The states allege 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. 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 that were equipped with the suspect inflators.
The states allege that Honda’s actions and 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 several Minnesota consumer-protection laws.
What Consumers Can Do
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at https://hondaairbaginfo.com or call its toll-free Customer Service 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 Safercar.gov. All safety recall repairs are free at authorized Honda dealers.
Compensation is available for those who have suffered personal injury or other economic loss due to the Takata airbags in Honda vehicles. For more information about the how to make a claim for restitution, visit the Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund and Honda’s page on the In Re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation claims website.
Attorney General Ellison also encourages owners of Honda or Acura vehicles with questions about this settlement to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), or by submitting the complaint form on the Attorney General’s website.
In addition to Minnesota, the multistate group — which was led by South Carolina, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, and Texas — is comprised of Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.