Toyota, 3 other automakers settle suit over Takata air bags


A settlement reached Thursday between four auto companies and millions of affected drivers covers an estimated 15.8 million vehicles from Toyota, Subaru, BMW and Mazda.

Plaintiffs' attorneys said Thursday the automakers have agreed to pay $553 million to settle a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami.

The automakers said the settlements, which are subject to approval by a Florida judge, will be overseen by a court-appointed administrator.

Takata's inflators can explode with excessive force and unleash metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks, and are blamed for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. The safety defect has prompted recalls worldwide of about 100 million inflators by more than a dozen major automakers.

In exchange, the auto-makers will be allowed to exit the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) over the largest auto recall in USA history.

The settlement also comprises an outreach program to contact owners, compensation for economic losses including out-of-pocket expenses, as well as a possible residual distribution payment of up to $500.

There is also a settlement that involves Takata itself, who will compensate automakers with $850 million, and that deal also created a $125 million fund to compensate injured individuals who have not already reached an agreement by January 2017.

BMW, Mazda, Subaru and Toyota (the automakers) today announced agreements to resolve economic loss claims in the Takata multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the United States.

Among the benefits provided for in the settlements is a new independent outreach program that seeks to dramatically increase recall remedy completion rates.

Auto makers will also reimburse some expenses such as for transportation, storing or towing charges, child-care bills and lost wages during vehicle repairs. The automakers agreed to provide rental cars to owners most at risk, including those with older vehicles or living in humid areas like the Southeast or Hawaii.

Tokyo-based Takata in May 2015 agreed to double a U.S. recall to a record more than 30 million vehicles made by some of the world's biggest automakers.

The settlement and the case will help Takata's potential buyer to assess potential liabilities, and could help facilitate other carmakers sued in class actions to reach similar agreements.

The settlement comes in the wake of mass recalls of airbags produced by Japanese company Takata.