DC wins $2M as part of settlement over Honda air bags

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday that Honda will pay the District nearly $2 million as part of a multi-state settlement over allegations that the company concealed air bag safety problems.

The company will pay a total of $85 million in the suit, which was brought by 48 attorneys general. They alleged that Honda didn’t inform regulators and consumers that front air bags in many Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. were in danger of rupturing, which could cause metal fragments to fly into passenger areas.

Ruptures resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States. The systems were installed in Honda cars starting with the 2001 model year and ending in 2016.

“This settlement with Honda makes clear that companies, large and small, will face serious consequences when they put profits over protecting the safety of their customers,” Racine said in a release.

The settlement requires Honda to adopt “fail-safe” features for future air-bag designs, stop misleading advertising and increase supplier oversight, among other measures.

The states that filed the lawsuit — led by South Carolina — alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the substance used to inflate the air bags, ammonium nitrate, could burn and cause the bags’ inflators to burst. Yet Honda delayed warning consumers or safety officials about the problem, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009.

Since 2008, Honda has recalled roughly 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles that had the potentially dangerous inflators.

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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