Certain owners of Ford vehicles with recalled Takata airbags, which may rupture and send shrapnel debris into the passenger compartment in the event of a crash, will share in nearly $300 million in compensation the American auto maker has agreed to pay to resolve economic-loss lawsuits.
The Ford airbag settlement was announced in a court filing on Monday, providing at least $299.1 million for expenses incurred by owners or leaseholders of certain vehicles, as well as a rental program to provide loaner vehicles while awaiting airbag repairs or replacement.
Defective Takata airbag inflators were used in more than 6 million Ford cars and trucks, which have been linked to reports of severe injuries and deaths after airbags overinflated and exploded following an auto accident. The settlement does not resolve personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against Ford over the airbags.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest and most complex in U.S. history, impacting vehicles manufactured by at least 19 different auto makers. In addition to Ford, similar settlements have been reached by Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and other companies. However, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz continue to litigate the claims, according to recent reports.
The airbag problems pose the greatest risk in areas with hot temperatures and high humidity, and government officials have recently expressed concerns that nearly 500,000 vehicles located in just the Broward and Miami-Dade counties of southern Florida, nearest the equator, have not yet been repaired.
In February 2018, a rare “Do Not Drive” warning was issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for more than 35,000 Ford and Mazda vehicles with recalled airbags, due to testing that revealed the Takata inflators may spontaneously rupture, even if the vehicle is not involved in a crash.
Lawsuits over recalled Takata airbags filed throughout the federal court system have all be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.