In order to resolve economic damage claims made by consumers in the far-reaching Takata air bag litigation, Ford Motor Company has entered into a settlement under which it will pay $299.1 million.
According to records from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, the agreement is designed to compensate affected consumers for any out-of-pocket costs incurred due to the presence of Takata air bags and also to provide complimentary loaner vehicles for Ford owners and lessees as they wait to have their air bags repaired and replaced. In addition, the settlement contains terms requiring the automaker to expand its efforts to contact consumers who still own vehicles equipped with faulty air bags and who have not yet sought repairs.
These developments are the latest in a wave of economic loss claim settlements paid by automakers, following on the heels of a $533 million pact involving Subaru, Mazda, Toyota and BMW as well as a $98 million agreement between claimants and Nissan Motor Corporation.
According to plaintiffs attorneys embroiled in the litigation, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, General Motors and Daimler AG/Mercedes-Benz continue to defend against Takata air bag-related claims.
Known as the largest such initiative of its kind, the highly publicized Takata air bag recall resulted in the company having to file for bankruptcy protection in 2017 and also sparked a tsunami of lawsuits from injury victims and consumers alike. The mode of failure for the air bags in question involved the possibility of metal shards being forcefully projected in the direction of passengers and drivers. It is important to note that Ford’s settlement does not apply to wrongful death cases or personal injury claims.
In this particular matter, the consumer plaintiffs filed suit against Takata and the manufacturers of the vehicles in which the air bags were installed, seeking compensation for economic losses suffered as a result of owning or leasing cars containing the dangerous air bags. Pending approval from the court, Ford’s settlement offer covers roughly 6 million affected automobiles.
Lead attorney for the plaintiffs in this case stated that the settlement will play a significant role in protecting the unsuspecting public from defective Takata air bags.
Ford spokesperson Elizabeth Weigandt asserted that the company has its focus trained on the process of helping customers receive critical vehicle repairs. She went on to state that replacement parts are currently available for Ford cars within the first three priority groups and that owners and lessees are encouraged to make contact with a local dealer as soon as possible for their complimentary repairs.