The Latest: Judge: Higher fine wouldn’t help Takata victims
DETROIT (AP) — The Latest on Takata’s guilty plea in an investigation of dangerous air bag inflators (all times local):
A federal judge in Detroit says he wrestled with whether to order a larger fine against Takata for its air bag cover-up but decided that it would put the company out of business and harm victims.
Judge George Caram Steeh accepted Takata’s guilty plea Monday and restitution for automakers and victims injured or killed by defective air bag inflators. Takata will pay $850 million to automakers, $125 million to victims and $25 million to the U.S. government.
The judge says “destruction of the corporation would probably be a fair outcome.” But he noted that it wouldn’t help people who were hurt.
Takata’s chief financial officer, Yoichiro Nomura, says the company’s conduct over 15 years was “completely unacceptable.”
The defective inflators can blow apart, spewing shrapnel into the car’s cabin.
Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and agreed to pay $1 billion for a scheme to conceal a deadly defect in millions of its air bag inflators.
Takata admits to hiding problems that can cause inflators to explode with too much force, hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers. U.S. prosecutors still are seeking extradition of three former Takata executives from Japan to face criminal charges.
Detroit federal Judge George Caram Steeh accepted a guilty plea to a fraud charge Monday.
Takata has agreed to pay $850 million in restitution to automakers, $125 million for victims and families and a $25 million criminal fine. Separately, the company faces dozens of consumer and state lawsuits that could run into millions of dollars.
Attorneys for people suing air bag maker Takata and five automakers say the car companies knew that the company’s products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive.
The allegations against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and BMW were made in a document filed Monday with a federal court in Miami. The court is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The document says the allegations are partly based on auto company documents.
Earlier, the automakers had contended that Takata was the problem because it admitted to covering up the defective inflators, which can blow apart and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers.
Takata is expected to enter a guilty plea to one criminal charge at a hearing in Detroit Monday.