Mazda and Mitsubishi have asked a federal judge to order airbag maker Takata to reimburse them for costs they incur from lawsuits over the faulty Takata-made airbag inflators, which have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Miami.
Pointing to indemnification clauses in their contracts with Takata, the Japanese automakers claim the auto supplier is required to reimburse them for any financial losses they will suffer as a result of the defective airbags.
“As a direct consequence of Takata’s design, development, production and sale to Mitsubishi of the alleged defective inflators at issue in this action, [Mitsubishi] has already suffered damages related to the recalls, repairs and the defense of this action, and those damages continue to accrue,” Mitsubishi said in its filing, according to Law360.
Mitsubishi’s cross-claims are nearly identical to the two filed by Mazda Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor of America Inc. Law360 noted.
Mazda Motor Corp., Mazda Motor North America Inc., and Mitsubishi North America Inc. filed their cross-claims against Takata Wednesday, March 15, joining Nissan Motor Co., which filed a cross-claim the previous Friday. All three Japanese automakers and Tokyo-based Takata are defendants in the MDL combining lawsuits for victims of the defective airbags.
In addition to claims for contractual and equitable indemnity, the three cross-claims accuse Takata of fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation, which could lead to punitive damages for the plaintiffs.
All three automakers also claim that Takata’s recent $1 billion settlement of criminal charges with the U.S. government provides further support for their indemnification claims.
Takata’s airbag problems stem from the ammonium nitrate it uses in its airbags’ inflator mechanisms. The chemical compound is inexpensive but highly volatile, especially when compromised by humidity, and can become hypersensitive and prone to deploy with lethal force.
Exploding Takata airbags have been blamed for the deaths of 16 people, including 11 in the U.S. The airbags have also injured nearly 200 people.