Toyota, 3 other automakers settle suit over Takata air bags

Toyota, 3 other automakers settle suit over Takata air bags

According to a news release, plaintiffs in the Takata Airbag Product Liability Litigation filed class action settlement agreements resolving claims against Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW that will accelerate the removal of unsafe airbag inflators from 15.8 million affected vehicles while also compensating consumers for their economic losses.

The latest development in the Takata airbag story arrived on Thursday and included four automakers, almost 16 million vehicles and more than $500 million in settlements. Thursday's settlement doesn't cover personal-injury cases that are also part of the sprawling litigation against Takata and auto makers that is consolidated in the Florida court.

Takata Corp inflators, which can explode with excessive force and unleash metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks, are blamed for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. This claim covered owners of nearly 16 million vehicles which were recalled with potentially faulty Takata airbag inflators. The episode has triggered the largest recall in USA history.

- Compensation to class members for their economic losses resulting from the recall in the form of reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. The automakers have jointly agreed to provide a total of approximately $553 million for these activities.

"The programs offered in these agreements are meant to increase recall remedy completion rates for Takata airbag inflators, among other customer benefits", the carmakers said in a joint statement Thursday.

Auto makers will also reimburse some expenses such as for transportation, storing or towing charges, child-care bills and lost wages during vehicle repairs.

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The size, scope and complexity of the Takata airbag recalls, as well as the age of some of the involved vehicles, have impacted recall remedy completion rates.

The settlement - by Toyota, BMW, Subaru and Mazda - covers 15.8 million vehicles equipped with rupture-prone air bag inflators.

Therefore, Takata agreed in January to plead guilty to United States charges of criminal wrongdoing and to pay $1 billion to resolve a federal investigation into its inflators.

Ford, Honda and Nissan did not sign onto the deal, meaning their legal dispute over economic loss claims connected to Takata air bags will continue. The airbag manufacture has also acknowledged that it used false reports and other misrepresentations to convince automakers to buy air bag systems that contained faulty, inferior or otherwise defective inflators.

Toyota's portion of the settlement is the highest, at $278.5 million.

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