Products Liability: The Innovation Responsible for the Rise and Fall of Takata
This case begins with post-deposition thoughts of Sean Burns, a 23-year veteran of Takata Corp. The lawsuit that gave rise to the deposition was brought as a class action on behalf of people who alleged Takata's airbags caused them economic damages and/or personal injuries. In 2003, Takata learned that an inflator had ruptured in a driver-side airbag it had developed and manufactured. Another inflator ruptured in 2004, three in 2007, and more from 2008 through 2010. Throughout this time, Burns worked in concert with employees in other functional areas at Takata to determine the root cause of the inflator ruptures. He had led the team that developed the propellant inside the inflator and was part of the team that developed the inflator design that came under scrutiny. In addition to their deep concerns with safety, Burns and his Takata colleagues were confronting the complex type of situation that arises for a company facing potential liability for a defective product. Eventually, more than 40 million vehicles in the United States and over 100 million globally were recalled due to concerns with airbags manufactured by Takata.