by Catherine Wilson
Ford Motor Co. agreed Monday to a $299 million class action settlement to resolve claims that about 6 million vehicles carried defective Takata air bags.
The proposed settlement filed with U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami came in products liability litigation alleging some Takata inflators exploded when they deployed.
The settlement agreement would accelerate the removal of Takata inflators and compensate consumers for financial losses tied to recall and replacement costs on 10 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models made over various periods from 2004 to 2018.
Lawmakers and the National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration are concerned about lagging repair rates in the largest vehicle recall in U.S. history affecting 37 million vehicles.
The Ford settlement in the mul-tidistrict litigation follows others by Toyota, BMW, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan and Honda. Other litigation is pending against GM, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, which continue to litigate claims filed by their vehicle owners and lessees.
“These settlements are proving to be vital in protecting consumers from dangerous Takata air bags, and this latest agreement with Ford is an important expansion of this effort,” said Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck, lead plaintiffs counsel in the case. “All consumers deserve to drive without fear of injury, and the outreach, support and compensation programs in this settlement will undoubtedly make Ford drivers and passengers safer.”
The settlement calls for an outreach program to be overseen by an independent special administrator to drastically increase recall remedy completion rates. The program will regularly contact class members through direct mail, phone calls, email, internet ads, social media and in-person canvassing to encourage auto owners and lessees to replace recalled Takata air bags.
Compensation for economic losses would include reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, up to $500 for those without documented out-of-pocket expenses, rental cars to cover repair time and a customer support program for repairs and adjustments.
Subject to court approval, the claims process will open to eligible class members.
Personal injury and property damage claims tied to Takata air bags are not covered by the proposed settlement.
More information on the settlement agreement can be found at www.autoairbagsettlement.com