Three former employees of Takata Corp. will share a $1.7 million award after giving information to authorities that alerted them to the risks of the much-publicized deadly airbag inflators. Those inflators were the subject of the largest automotive recall in history.
Takata agreed to pay the award out of a reserve fund it created while filing for bankruptcy protection. The three whistleblowers sought compensation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. Congress instructed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop some rules for the program by last June, but the agency did not complete the rules as instructed. However, the government still managed to award the whistleblowers for their report.
Under federal law, employees of the auto industry who report significant federal vehicle safety violations can receive between 10 and 30 percent of monetary sanctions worth more than $1 million.
The Takata case has been an ever-present issue looming over the auto manufacturing industry over the last several years. There were at least 22 people killed and hundreds more injured worldwide due to exploding Takata inflators, which would send metal shrapnel into the faces and bodies of drives and passengers in vehicles with the airbags.
There are still 30 million vehicles that have yet to be repaired in the recall, which affected cars made by 19 different automakers. Takata had to file for bankruptcy protection in June 2017, due largely to all the recalls and lawsuits on its plate.
One of the whistleblowers knew as early as 1999 that Takata airbags could be deadly. He resigned from his position in 2001, but still had emails and designs he was able to turn over to the federal government. Another whistleblower provided evidence that Takata falsified data and concealed evidence the airbags were possibly dangerous. The third whistleblower lives in an area near a Takata facility and works for a large manufacturer and has provided information anonymously in fear of repercussions.
For more information on your legal options and rights as a whistleblower, work with a trusted Dallas lawyer at Kardell Law Group.