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Hawaii sues Toyota, Nissan and Ford for using Takata air bags

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Stephen Levins, executive director of Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection, gestures to photos of metal shards released when air bags exploded. Hawaii is suing auto manufacturers Ford, Nissan and Toyota over air bags that can spew shrapnel when they deploy.

Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against three major automobile manufacturers for selling cars with dangerous air bags.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s Office of Consumer Protection announced today it filed a lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. for unlawful practices in connection with marketing and sales of vehicles with air bags made by Tokyo-based Takata Corp.

“Nissan, Toyota and Ford knew, or should have known, for more than a decade … the air bags installed in their cars could explode, posing grave and sometimes fatal dangers to the cars’ occupants,” said Stephen Levins, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection, at a press conference today.

Levins said Hawaii drivers are particularly at risk because of the state’s environment. The high temperatures and humidity could lead to built up pressure and cause the steel interiors of the air bags to burst, sending shrapnel through the vehicle.

“Here in Hawaii, we’re ground zero for danger associated with these air bags,” Levins said.

Takata air bags have been linked to 11 deaths in the U.S. and more than a hundred injuries. Levins said he did not know of any cases where drivers were injured or killed because of Takata air bags in Hawaii.

The lawsuit filed in First Circuit Court by the state Office of Consumer Protection is seeking the maximum civil penalty of $10,000 per violation.

The state is urging drivers to check if their vehicles are affected at safercar.gov and to make an appointment as soon as possible to have their air bags replaced for free.

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