Nissan is the latest automaker to settle claims in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over defective Takata Corp. air bags. The automaker agreed to pay $97.7 million in settlement. Under the agreement, consumers will receive $87 million in a settlement fund; they will be allowed to apply for reimbursement for everything from child care payments and towing fees to lost wages; and Nissan will create a free rental vehicle program.
The settlement, if approved by U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno, would make Nissan the fifth automaker to be dismissed from the litigation. As we reported, in May Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW agreed to pay a combined $553.6 million. Only two automakers – Honda and Ford – would remain in the suit. The Plaintiffs will continue to pursue their case against these companies.
Consumers first filed suit in 2014. Takata’s air bag inflators have been linked to at least 18 deaths and the company has faced massive global recalls. Takata has pled guilty to wire fraud, has agreed to pay $1 billion in fines and restitution, and has acknowledged 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. As has been widely reported, Takata filed for bankruptcy in June in Delaware and Japan.
Nissan filed a counterclaim against Takata in March, demanding the air bag manufacturer reimburse it for any future settlement. The settlement agreement covers some 4.4 million Nissan vehicles. As part of the agreement, Nissan will inform consumers about the dangers of the Takata air bags and provide class members with coverage for repairs, including parts and labor. The plan also opens the possibility of a residual distribution payment of up to $500 per class member.
It should be noted that this settlement does not involve claims of personal injury or property damage. The Plaintiffs are represented by Podhurst Orseck PA, Baron & Budd PC, Colson Hicks Eidson, Power Rogers & Smith PC, Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, among others. 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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