Today, Thomas Law Offices along with the law firm of Strauss Troy filed suit against Takata and Honda for consumers who have one of the many vehicles The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fined Honda $70 million for its failure to report potential safety problems with its vehicles. This is the largest civil penalty ever levied against a car manufacturer.
Honda withheld data for over a decade, covering over 1700 incidents– including claims of death and injury. This information is supposed to be reported, in a timely manner, to federal authorities.
Not only is Honda in the hotseat, but this decade-long problem raises the question of where were the regulators. The response from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was to say the NHTSA is now taking “very aggressive steps to address” these problems.
The violations were discovered last year after the problem of defective airbags lead to investigations into carmakers withholding knowledge about potential defects. Last year the Department of Justice fined Toyota $1.2-billion for misleading regulators and the public about safety problems and potential defects. General Motors was also under investigation by regulators for its failure — also over a decade — to disclose data about the defective ignition switch incidents. Last May, GM consented to pay a $35 million fine to settle charges that it failed to alert regulators and the public about this deadly defect.
In Honda’s case, the company said its data was withheld for over 10 years because of “inadvertent data entry or computer programming errors.” The company blamed it on software glitches and insufficient employee training. Honda admitted it learned of this problem is 2011 but did nothing for three years.
The data included 1,729 complaints that problems with its cars caused deaths and injuries. Also withheld were warranty claims and claims regarding customer satisfaction.
Honda made a public admission last fall that it had not fully reported all of its known safety data that could indicate possible defects. The company has now signed an order consenting to the fine and agreed to provide all of the missing information. In the order, Honda admits that it violated a 2000 law (the TREAD Act) that requires car manufacturers to submit quarterly reports of any reported problems, including crashes, injuries, deaths, and warranty claims.
In a statement, Honda North America Executive Vice President Rick Schostek said, “We have resolved this matter and will move forward to build on the important actions” the company “has already taken to address our past shortcomings in early warning reporting.”