takata airbag settlement, product liability

Four major automakers settle Takata airbag MDL claims

Four major automakers have agreed to pay a combined $553.6 million to settle allegations pending in multidistrict litigation (MDL) surrounding exploding Takata airbags. The settlement includes Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, and BMW. Beasley Allen lawyers W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud section, Archie Grubb, and Clay Barnett were part of the MDL discovery team in this litigation.

“This is a terrific settlement by these four auto manufacturers to accept responsibility for the defective airbags installed in their automobiles and rectify the problems consumers have been forced to deal with over the years,” Miles said. “We look forward to pressing forward on the cases with the remaining defendants.”

The settlement breaks down as follows: BMW will pay $131 million, Subaru will pay $68.3 million, Mazda will pay $75.8 million, and Toyota will hold the largest chunk of the settlement, at $278.5 million.

At issue are defective airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation, which makes a variety of auto parts for various automobile manufacturers. The airbags use a highly sensitive ammonium nitrate compound in the inflator mechanisms. Over time, the chemical compound can become compromised by humidity, making it hypersensitive and prone to deploy the airbag with lethal force.

Defective Takata airbags have spurred recalls of 100 million vehicles worldwide. The airbags have been linked to 17 deaths globally, including 11 in the U.S., and more than 180 injuries. Takata airbags prompted the largest auto recall in U.S. history, encompassing about 70 million individual airbag units in 42 million vehicles made by 19 different auto manufacturers.

The settlement is intended to provide compensation for plaintiffs in class action litigation seeking compensation for monetary losses resulting from the massive recall, also to establish a customer support program for affected vehicle owners, and to provide them an extended warranty.

The case is In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:15-md-02599, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

For more information about the Takata airbag recall, visit Beasley Allen’s YouTube page.

Source: Law360

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