Lawsuit Accuses Air Bag Maker Takata Of Destroying Test Records Showing Design Flaws

Things aren't looking so good for Takata Corporation, the Japanese maker of automobile air bags serving about 20 percent the market. A recently discovered (and potentially deadly) defect in the design of certain air bags dating back to at least 2008 has already resulted in the recall of millions of vehicles,and now the company faces a lawsuit accusing it of covering up evidence that it knew about the defect for the past decade.

The faulty air bags are believed to be responsible for at least four deaths. At issue is a bad part that can cause the air bags to deploy with too much force, which then ends up shooting metal shards inside the vehicle. The defect became public when a Georgia women sued GM in October 2013 after claiming that a bad driver-side air bag left her blind in one eye.

Air Bag

According to the complaint, Takata ran tests on its air bags in 2004 after a Honda driver was "severely" injured. The testing supposedly revealed that there were cracks in the steel canisters used to house the air bags' rapid inflation system. That's when the alleged coverup began.

"Upon learning that information, Takata ordered its technicians to destroy all evidence of the test results, including video footage and computer backup files," the lawsuit states.

On a related note, Business Insider reports that Nissan has increased the number of vehicles recalled in the U.S. for faulty passenger-side air bags produced by Takata. Including all automobile makers, there have now been more than 11 million recalled vehicles in the U.S. and 17 million around the world due to the air bag issue.