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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

Automaker BMW is recalling 220,000 vehicles because of defective air bags. The latest recall in the Takata air bag issue effects the BMW 3-Series models produced from December 2001 to March 2003, including 45,500 sold in the U.S. and Canada. BMW expects that 180,000 of the vehicles are still in use.

The defect in the airbags, which were produced by Japanese company Takata, have an inflator housing that can rupture when the airbags deploy and send shards of metal flying into the vehicle.

This is the sixth time within the past month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a recall related to Takata's products. Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Mazda have all issued Takata-related recalls since last month, with 3.4 million vehicles being recalled.

Takata has had airbag recall issues in the past. Between 2008 and 2011, Honda recalled 1.7 million vehicles due to a problem with the propellant in driver-side airbags that Takata manufactured. The company has reported a loss of $307 million for the fiscal year which ended March 31, because of costs associated with the recalls.

AOL Auto recently reported that automakers have issued twenty-two air bag-related recalls in the past six months, up from ten in the prior six months. In 2012, there were twenty-three airbag-related recalls. In many of the recalls, drivers had air bags deploying randomly. And too many accident victims are finding their air bags aren’t deploying upon impact. Others find that when the do deploy, shrapnel comes flying out, which can have disfiguring or even fatal consequences.

AOL reported on what such fatality that occurred on Christmas Eve, 2009. Guddi Rathore, 33, was driving a 2001 Honda Accord with her three children inside when the vehicle was struck by a small mail truck. The impact was minor, but the Takata airbag exploded, showering the Ms. Rahtore with shrapnel, severing arteries in her neck. She bled to death in front of her children.

This defect in the airbag was not something that was unknown to the NHTSA, Honda or Takata. NHTSA fielded the first of 278 airbag-related complaints about the 2001 Honda Accord in August 2001. It took almost eight years before Honda issued its first recall, on July 8, 2009, to address the Takata airbag problem. The victim’s family has since settled a lawsuit with Honda and Takata.

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