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DCCA NEWS RELEASE: Office of Consumer Protection Announces $14M Honda Settlement

Posted on Nov 5, 2020 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

Portion of Settlement Earmarked to Support Housing Assistance Efforts

HONOLULU — The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) on behalf of the State of Hawaii today announced a $14 million settlement with American Honda Motor Co. and its affiliates (Honda) over allegations that Honda did not disclose safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S., including Hawaii. The settlement will be used to benefit Hawaii consumers, and the department is seeking to especially help renters in distress as a result of the pandemic.

Hawaii made national headlines in May 2016, when it led the way and became the first state to file a lawsuit against Honda and Takata, the manufacturer of the faulty airbag systems that could explode, posing grave, and potentially fatal, dangers to the cars’ occupants. The State alleged that Honda used ammonium nitrate propelled airbags despite information that ammonium nitrate, a chemical principally used to propel rockets and for mining and demolition, was volatile and unpredictable. This is especially true in hot and humid climates like in Hawaii, where temperature changes and moisture can accelerate the breakdown of the chemical propellant and cause it to explode.

Hawaii previously settled with Takata while the company was in bankruptcy, along with two other jurisdictions, for nearly $7 million.

“The State of Hawaii initiated this case against Honda because we believe that it failed to tell Hawaii consumers about the potential dangers of the airbags in Honda vehicles. The resolution of this matter goes a long way in holding Honda responsible for ensuring that Hawaii consumers will be provided vehicles with airbags that protects its occupants in the event of an accident in the safest possible manner,” said Stephen Levins, OCP Executive Director.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) required automakers to prioritize the recall of affected vehicles in Hawaii along with other jurisdictions with high heat and humidity. To date, Honda recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles with the defective airbags, including tens of thousands in Hawaii.

OCP urges all consumers to determine if they need to replace their airbags by checking NHTSA’s website at
The airbags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were installed in cars mostly from model years 2002 through 2015. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants. To date, there have been 17 deaths and more than 200 injuries in the U.S.

While the settlement resolves Hawaii’s claims against Honda, the State will continue to pursue its separate lawsuit against three other automakers related to the Takata airbags. Assisting OCP in the litigation is the Honolulu law firm of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks and the Washington, D.C. office of Motley Rice.

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Media Contact:
Jayson Horiuchi
Communications Officer
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (808) 586-7582