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Judge allows class-action lawsuits against Honda, automakers

Millions of plaintiffs in 2014 brought a class-action lawsuit in against Takata and Honda, and the airbag manufacturer and carmaker petitioned to have the case thrown out. A US District Judge in Miami ruled against the companies on December 3, allowing the case to proceed. The case in question, Craig Dunn et al vs. Takata Corporation et al, is thought to be the first class action filed in the ongoing airbag imbroglio. Other cases have been filed, but on behalf of individuals.

Takata and Honda are named defendants in the case, but the 453-page suit is also aimed at BMW, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, and Subaru. The plaintiffs claim violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act specifically by Takata and Honda, alleging that those two companies conspired to hide information about airbag inflators that could rupture and spray shrapnel around a car's cockpit. Honda said Takata hid information from it and ceased doing business with the airbag company, while a recent Wall Street Journal review of documents indicated that Takata changed testing information to suppress actual results from Honda. The class-action suit charges violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, too.

Meanwhile, Takata has strengthened its legal team with the addition of Lanny Breuer, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP. Breuer was a US assistant attorney general from 2009 to 2013, heading the criminal division. Honda has been dealing with individual cases out of court, with litigation in cases of five out of six US deaths settled for undisclosed sums. Source

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