Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi have asked a Florida federal court to order Takata Corp. to reimburse the automakers for all costs they incur as a result of pending multidistrict litigation (MDL) over Takata’s faulty air bag inflators. As a basis for their claims, the automakers cite existing contractual obligations. The cross-claims filed by the automakers assert that the supply contracts they signed with Takata require the air bag maker to indemnify them for any costs or damages stemming from any parts made or sold by Takata, including the air bag inflators at the center of the current litigation.
The automakers are Defendants in the pending federal MDL in Miami and they deny any liability to the Plaintiffs in the MDL. The automakers claim that if there is a settlement or judgment against them, Takata is responsible for any payment. The automakers in their cross-claims say the pertinent contract provisions cover indemnification for all types of damages, including settlements, as well as costs related to recalls, replacement parts and attorneys’ fees.
The three cross-claims contain counts for contractual indemnity, common law or equitable indemnity, and fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation. Interestingly, there is a claim for punitive damages. All three of the automakers use Takata’s $1 billion January settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice as support for their indemnification arguments. Takata agreed to a statement of facts in the settlement. Those facts included Takata’s acknowledgment that it ran a scheme to use false reports and other misrepresentations to convince automakers to buy air bag systems that contained faulty, inferior or otherwise defective inflators.
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.
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