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Podhurst Orseck Coordinates Work Generating $1.5 Billion in Takata Air Bag Settlements

Most Effective Lawyers: Class action — The Podhurst Orseck team coordinated the work of more than two dozen law firms in class actions against automakers that used recalled Takata air bags.

By Catherine Wilson

Peter Prieto, Matthew Weinshall, John Gravante and Alissa Del Riego

Podhurst Orseck

Podhurst Orseck partner Peter Prieto serves as chair lead counsel for plaintiffs in the Takata air bags multidistrict litigation, one of the largest in the nation involving the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

After more than two years of litigation, the legal team’s work on behalf of over 40 million plaintiffs paid off. In October 2017 and February 2018, groundbreaking class action settlements were approved by U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami with six automakers for a total of $1.2 billion.

In July, Ford agreed to settle for an additional $299 million. Final approval is pending.

The settlements with Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, BMW, Nissan and Honda came three years after the litigation began. Prieto with the assistance of Podhurst lawyers Matthew Weinshall, helped secure the large-scale payouts.

The newest defendants include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, which also installed Takata inflators in their vehicles.

The MDL is a result of air bags supplied by Takata that have been recalled worldwide because of a  defect that makes its inflators prone to explode. The lawsuit claims the defect is linked to the use of  inexpensive and volatile ammonium nitrate, which sometimes spews shrapnel at occupants. At least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries have been blamed on defective air bags.

Motorists have alleged a decadelong scheme by Takata and automakers to conceal the defect from regulators and class members.

To prosecute the claims against Takata and the automakers, the Podhurst Orseck team oversaw and coordinated the work of more than two dozen law firms with over 200 lawyers and paralegals. The MDL lawyers defeated motions to dismiss, reviewed over 10 million pages of documents and took or defended more than 150 depositions.

The settlements provide compensation for economic losses resulting from the recall including reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, a residual distribution payment of up to $500, rental cars for the most at-risk class members while they wait for remedies and a customer-support program for repairs and adjustments on replacement inflators, including an extended warranty.

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