After several years, the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against auto manufacturers over defective Takata airbag inflators may finally be able to rest a little easier. That is because four major automakers named in the suit—BMW, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota—have agreed to a settlement worth upwards of $553 million. The plaintiffs filed papers for this settlement against the four car makers (among others), commenting that it covers approximately 16 million [potential] vehicles.
In the settlement, Toyota will pay $278,500,000 over issues with 9.2 million vehicles; BWM will pay $131,000,000 over issues with 2.3 million vehicles; Mazda will pay $75,805,050 over issues with 1.7 million vehicles; and Subaru will pay $68,262,257 over issues with 2.6 million vehicles.
The settlement aims to compensate people who either owned or leased (or currently own or lease) vehicles which were affected by the recent Takata airbag recall. There are several ways a plaintiff might have been affected. The plaintiffs are now saying that they plan to take the case further, hopefully adding Ford, Honda, and Nissan to the suit down the road.
This latest development in the case comes several months after Takata had already agreed to pay $1 billion over air bag fraud. This resulted in three of the company’s higher-ranking executives hit with criminal charges, including $125 million regarded as restitution for people who had been physically harmed or injured as a result of the fraud.
Of course, the case had also determined that at least 16 deaths have been linked to faulty Takata airbags, 11 of which were in the United States.
Since the beginning of this case, at least 14 million of these faulty air bag systems have been repaired, as described by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But while some steps have been taken to remedy the problem, the plaintiffs argue that the process has been too slow going. For example, the case points out that as of late April, only about one-third of all air-bag related recalls across the automotive industry have actually been completed.
In regards to this, the carmakers have made the joint statement: “The programs offered in these agreements are intended to increase recall remedy completion rates for Takata airbag inflators, among other customer benefits.”
Indeed, by 2019, regulators now expect that automakers will have recalled between 64 million and 69 million airbag inflators in 42 million (US) vehicles.