In court documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, attorneys representing victims of Takata airbags accused Ford, Nissan, Honda, BMW and Toyota of knowing about problems with the airbags for years, but continued to use them because Takata was cheaper than its competitors and could manufacture bulk quantities the companies required.
The allegations came as Takata pleaded guilty on Monday as part of an agreement to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into the airbag scandal. That deal required Takata to pay $1 billion in fines and restitution to automakers and victims.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), defective Takata airbags have been linked to at least 11 deaths and 180 injuries in the U.S., in addition to others around the globe. The lawsuit raises questions about who should shoulder the responsibility for these casualties.
Vehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” The airbags were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015.
To find out if your car has a defective Takata airbag, go to NHTSA’s Safercar.gov/vin database and enter your vehicle’s VIN number.