BOISE, Idaho – Idaho is among 44 states that reached an agreement with an automobile airbag maker over allegations of safety issues.

The settlement was reached with TK Holdings Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese airbag maker Takata, according to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who made the announcement on Thursday.

“Airbags are intended to protect consumers, not injure or kill them,” Wasden said in a prepared statement. “This settlement addresses TK Holdings’ unacceptable conduct and works to better protect consumers in the future.”

After a multi-state investigation that involved attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia, it was concluded that TK Holdings had failed to disclose known safety defects associated with certain airbag inflators.

Wasden's office explains:

As the compound used to inflate airbags was exposed to heat and humidity, it degraded. Consequently, upon deployment, the airbag inflator could rupture and send pieces of the metal casing surrounding the propellant into a car’s cabin. At least 20 people have died worldwide.

Beginning in 2008, auto manufacturers recalled vehicles containing these airbag inflators in response to the defect. But Takata did not take steps to recall the inflators until 2014. More than 50 million airbags in more than 37 million vehicles have been recalled so far. By 2020, the number of recalled airbags could reach 65 million.

Among other things, TK Holdings agreed to reimburse states for their investigative costs.

The states involved agree to suspend a $650 million civil penalty for the bankrupt company, Wasden said, in order to maximize the amount of money available to victims of the airbag defects.

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