Santa Clara, CA: Nissan has agreed to pay $97.7 million to settle allegations of consumer fraud regarding defective Takata Corp. air bags, making it the fifth automaker to be released from the multidistrict litigation (MDL). A $553.6 million payout was agreed jointly for Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW, similarly ending their liability in the litigation.
Under the terms of the deal, if approved, $87 would be set aside for the consumers’ settlement fund for reimbursement of all costs, ranging from child care payments and towing fees to lost wages. Nissan would also create a free rental vehicle program.
If the settlement does receive court approval, the only remaining automakers named as defendants in the MDL would be Honda and Ford. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they would continue to pursue their case against them.
The first consumer lawsuit was filed in 2014, alleging the Takata airbags, which contained volatile ammonium nitrate inflator, can misfire, especially in humid conditions. This sends shrapnel and fumes into the vehicle cabin at high velocity. Nissan recalled more than 52,000 vehicles as a result of the airbags. At least 11 deaths in the US are linked to the defective airbags, and the company has faced enormous global recalls.
Under the terms of the agreement, an estimated 4.4 million Nissan vehicles will be covered. Nissan will inform the owners 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. The settlement does not involve claims of personal injury or property damage.
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.