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Automakers knew earlier of Takata air bag issues: court documents

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON 

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) - Co , , Fiat Automobiles NV and knew of problems with air bag inflators and should have moved faster to recall vehicles, according to company documents cited on Wednesday by owners suing the automakers.

Amended class-action complaints filed in in say the four automakers knowingly misrepresented their as safe. The lawsuits, which claim economic losses, cite internal company documents that suggest the automakers knew of issues earlier than previously known - and well before issuing recalls.

"These auto manufacturers were well aware of the public safety risks posed by Takata's airbags long ago, and still waited years to disclose them to the public and take action," said Peter Prieto, a for the owners.

At least 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide are linked to the inflators that can explode with excessive force, unleashing inside cars and trucks. The defect led to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

GM said there were no ruptures of GM inflators at issue. "The lawsuit is baseless and without merit and misstates a host of material facts. We intend to defend it vigorously," he said.

Fiat and Volkswagen declined to comment. Daimler said in a statement it regarded "the accusations as unfounded."

said in June it had recalled, or expected to recall, inflators in about 125 million worldwide by 2019, including more than 60 million in the in built by 19 automakers.

Other automakers have settled economic loss cases that are part of the same legal battle in Florida, worth more than $1.2 billion in total. In September, <7267.T> agreed to a $605 million settlement.

A in previously approved settlements with Motor Corp <7203.T>, <7270.T>, , <7201.T> and <7261.T> totalling $650 million. A similar suit against is pending.

The settlements covered several forms of economic damages linked to the inflators, including claims that were inaccurately represented to be safe, and that buyers had overpaid for cars with defective or substandard air

All but two of the 22 deaths occurred in Honda The remaining two deaths occurred in 2006 Ford pickup trucks.

In 2017, pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing and paid nearly $1 billion to resolve a U.S. federal investigation into its inflators.

A U.S. Senate panel will hold a hearing next Tuesday on the recalls.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 15 2018. 04:25 IST