Tell Honda to Change Their Culture!

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Imagine if what caused this was in your car's airbag.

That's the deadly Beirut explosion from August 4, 2020. The material that caused the explosion was ammonium nitrate . The blast killed 204 people, and injured 6,500 . The same compound was used by domestic terrorists in the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. 168 were killed then. 19 of them were children.

That same compound could be in your car's airbags right now.

My name is Rich Finley Shumate. And this petition is to send a strong message to the Honda Motor Company about their culture, their history, and the way they have dealt with a disabled customer hurt in their vehicle.

That customer was me . I was permanently disabled in a crash in 2015 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles when a driver fell asleep and hit me, causing a 3 car collision. In my accident, my airbags didn't deploy at all . From that accident I lost two discs in my lumbar spine, suffered 5 different eye disorders, a traumatic brain injury and permanent condition called triplopia, meaning I will see 3 of everything for the rest of my life . See me and my injuries here .

I sued Honda because my airbags didn't deploy. Two law firms attempted to help me but were intimidated by Honda's unlimited resources and their willingness to spend any amount to defeat me in court. With medical bills over half a million dollars and counting-not to mention seeing triple for the rest of my life, Honda offered me 15k dollars to settle my case. Up until this point, everything Honda did was understandable. They felt they could win the case, they made a lowball offer-which was their right. But then, when I declined the 15k, things changed.

Honda lowered their offer to 5k . Then they took ALL offers off the table. Their lawyers sent me a letter smearing me, falsely describing me with words such as racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory. I vehemently pushed back as I had none nothing to warrant such treatment.  I went on a mission to determine just what kind of company Honda was to treat a disabled customer like this.

What I would learn about Honda and the Takata Airbag Scandal was incredibly sobering and upsetting. And I would not be able to keep it to myself. 

So, having been a public speaker, and actor in Los Angeles since 2000, I responded to these false claims the only way I knew how. With facts. And jokes. Click for video:

Honda was NOT happy with that video. But they upped their offer to settle my case suddenly to 25k dollars with their representation saying I had “caused a lot of angst” with the higher ups at Honda with my video. But that 25k offer came with a clause that I had to be quiet for the rest of my life about the way they bullied me, and falsely smeared me. And they did not want me to share any of the research I did about them and the Takata Airbag scandal with the public ever again.

I attempted to negotiate a better settlement as I am stuck with this brain injury and triple vision for the rest of my life. Everyday is a struggle. And my memory-at risk to dementia due to my brain injury-is a little worse every year. Honda refused to budge. I was told they felt so confident in their stance that they would crush me in court that they would not increase their offer. So I had to make a choice: Take what little I could get or maintain my dignity and my ability to make sure the world knows the history of Honda and that my being disabled and Honda's bullying of me did not happen in vain.

In August of 2020, it was quietly announced that Honda settled with 46 states for 85 million dollars over their actions surrounding the Takata Airbag Scandal. One of these actions involved Honda withholding from federal safety regulators and the public 1,729 deaths, serious injuries, and warranty concerns from 2003-2014. That's 11 YEARS OF WITHHOLDING. And yes, some of those accidents involved exploding Takata Airbags. Honda was a shareholder in Takata during that time.

On October 3rd of 2020 it was announced that yet another person had died in a Honda from an exploding Takata airbag. That announcement came from Honda on a Saturday night, when companies typically release bad news because the markets are closed and not many people will see it.

Just 6 days later on October 9th Honda announced actor, WWE Superstar, and by all accounts great guy John Cena was going to be the new voice of Honda . With years of investigation behind them by signing the 85 million dollar settlement (the equivalent of just 5 days of Honda's profits) , Honda determined they wanted to tweak their Helpful Honda imagine and delve more into the off-roading world and portray a tougher image. They actually cited one of the reasons they parted ways with former Honda voice The Wonder Years' Fred Savage was because "Fred reflected a key word-and that key word is nice."

I responded how you would probably imagine. Click here for video:

Also in October of 2020, I lost a hearing to Honda. It was more painful than the day I had my accident. With no legal representation, Honda got a judge who himself had been a corporate attorney for 28 years to find in their favor and dismiss my case. I am appealing the decision. And while it hurt, I knew it was a strong possibility. And one I had to expose myself to if I was to avoid being silenced. 

But no matter what happens with my legal case, it was important to fight for what I believed was right and stand up to Honda's bullying. Because Honda never HAD to bully me. They never HAD to lower an offer from 15k to 5k. They never HAD to try to intimidate me with false smears. They actively MADE those decisions. And when I contacted their top executives to make sure the entire company knew, Honda never wavered. 

They simply DIDN'T CARE that I had been bullied. 

I wonder if they care about those 1,729 deaths or serious injuries they failed to report due to computer glitches and training issues? Or the impact that reporting those numbers as they happened could have had on sooner recalls being issued and lives potentially spared? Or if they forgot to add an apology in that August 2020 press release where they admitted "no wrongdoing" ?.

They don't believe the public, like you reading this petition right now and anyone you may forward it to will care. Because of the coronavirus. Or because of Trump. Or the overall toll 2020 has taken on all of us.

They simply, and arrogantly feel people won't care. And that the people, the very people who they target and seduce with their empathetic marketing will do nothing. 

But corporate cultures like this cannot be tolerated in a company that is responsible for our safety. Even if you don't drive a Honda, how many do you pass on the road everyday?

Because it's not about me and my accident. It's about them . And God forbid it someday be about you if you found yourself up against them. 

But I don't like bullies, and I want to do my part to try to ensure Honda will not treat another disabled customer like this ever again.

Honda can never dispute the following:

  • They were a shareholder in the Takata Airbag Company.
  • As of this posting, more people have died in Honda vehicles from exploding Takata airbags than all other manufacturers combined.
  • In 2014, it was revealed that Honda withheld 1,729 deaths, serious injuries, and warranty concerns from the federal government and the public for 11 years from 2003-2014. They blamed these omissions on "computer glitches" and "training issues".
  • In 2015, one week after sponsoring the Rose Bowl Parade with that year's motto “Inspiring Stories” the federal government slapped Honda with a $ 70M fine for those 11 years of withholding.
  • In the spring of 2020, Honda let go a financial services employee whose doctor requested they quarantine for a 3rd week after being forced to come into Honda's CA office at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when several major competitors allowed their financial services counterparts to work safely from home.
  • In August 2020, Honda concluded the federal government's investigation with an $ 85M settlement in which Honda made sure to state “Under the terms of these civil settlements Honda does not acknowledge any wrong doing.”
  • On October 3 2020, Honda announced the death of yet another Honda victim to an exploding Takata airbag. On a Saturday.

As I move forward with my life and this story, there is still so much to tell about this saga. Honda and Takata had a previous issue in the 90s with the Takata Seat Belt Scandal. Someone within the Trump administration has played a key role in what happens to discarded Takata airbags. What other elements within our government assisted Takata? What is Honda's history with disabled plaintiffs? There is so much to this story that I have learned. I have multiple state attorney general's offices all over the country eager to sit down for an interview about Honda's settlement and what it means. Take this comment from the Attorney General from Washington DC Karl Racine:

"This settlement with Honda makes clear that companies, large and small, will face serious consequences when they put profits over protecting the safety of their customers ..."

Please share this petition, and also consider to my efforts to continue to tell this story. Corporations need a reminder that money doesn't buy everyone and that bullying behind closed doors while publicly professing to really care about the buying public is unacceptable.

And we should all stand up to bullies. No matter how big.

You can contribute You can also keep the conversation going with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok by finding me @ richsees3. Or emailing me at richfinley@live.com.

You can see all the materials in this post, including legal documents involving Honda and Takata by visiting my website  www.richsees3.com

Donating to this cause and signing this petition will send the STRONG message to Honda to clean up their act and truly conduct themselves with the sympathy and empathy that they have publicly displayed in their carefully crafted Helpful Honda People and their Random Acts of Helpfulness campaign that they started in 2007… 4 years into their 11 years of not reporting over 1,700 deaths and serious injuries.

Whether it be how Honda treats their employees with COVID 19, the buying public, a disabled customer, or even how they treat former voiceover talent Fred Savage, let's send Honda the clear message that “nice” is still an infinitely better corporate attribute than bullying and putting profits over people.

Please check the status of your car's airbags:  www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

Thank you for reading. Please sign, share, and donate if you can. 

Tell Honda to change their culture!

-Rich @ richsees3 #whatsuphonda                                                                                  www.richsees3.com