Ford Motor agreed to pay $299 million to settle its part of an ongoing class action lawsuit seeking compensation for owners of various Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles installed with defective Takata airbags.
The July 16 settlement, which received preliminary approval by a U.S. judge in Miami, would cover about 6 million vehicles made by Ford between 2004 and 2012.
Each of the affected vehicles is equipped with Takata airbags that could explode with deadly force even in the most minor impacts. Takata airbags have been linked to at least 23 deaths worldwide and about 300 injuries.
Ford is the seventh in a series of automakers to settle multidistrict litigation claims. Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and BMW have also settled claims against them in the multidistrict litigation. Auto manufacturers with litigation still pending are General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.
The sweeping Takata recall is the largest auto safety recall in U.S. history and affects about 50 million airbag units in 37 million U.S. vehicles.
If approved, the settlement agreement will expedite the Takata airbag repairs and compensate owners of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the recall. The settlement does not cover injury or death claims.
Owners of the affected Ford vehicles who agree to the July 16 settlement terms deal will receive free rental cars while waiting for their Takata airbag repairs, as well cash payments for out-of-pocket expenses – up to $500 for undocumented expenses.
Additionally, claimants will not be forced to give up their right to sue Ford individually if they are harmed by the Takata airbag in their vehicle.
Two of the 15 U.S. drivers who were killed by Takata airbag explosions were driving Ford vehicles. Both of those deadly airbag deployments occurred in 2006 Ford Ranger pickup trucks. The other U.S. victims were in Honda vehicles.
“It is frustrating and disappointing that consumers have to sue these car companies to get them to do what they should have done on their own years ago,” David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said. “Automakers should do right by their customers — and shouldn’t forget about them after they walk out of the showroom as the owner of a new car.”