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Mount Pleasant firm helps set up $90M trust

Funds will compensate victims of defective airbags

By: Heath Hamacher//June 6, 2018

Mount Pleasant firm helps set up $90M trust

Funds will compensate victims of defective airbags

By: Heath Hamacher//June 6, 2018

 

A Mount Pleasant law firm has reported that it helped negotiate a bankruptcy plan carving out a trust of at least $90 million for those who have been injured or killed by defective Takata airbags.

According to a settlement report submitted by Motley Rice officials, the airbags are “at the center of the largest automobile recall in history” and have been linked to at least 22 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide. The estimated value of the trust is between $90 million and $137 million, according to the firm, and could be more.

“Once the trust is open, it would begin to accept claims in approximately mid-2018,” the firm said.

Joseph Rice
Rice

Joseph Rice, the firm’s co-founder, said that Motley Rice has seen too many “horrific, life-changing” injuries” caused by the defective airbags that never should have been installed in millions of vehicles.

“Once they were known to be deadly, they should have been more swiftly recalled, and the driving public notified,” he said. “Sadly, that did not happen, so we are pleased that Judge Shannon has approved what we believe to be fair options for current and future victims of Takata airbags that provide swift resolution and allow victims to try to move on with their lives.”

Rice said that Takata filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection in June 2017, and that the proposed sale to Key Safety Systems left “minimal compensation” for victims. To protect the claimants, he said, Motley Rice opted to “aggressively pursue efforts to fund a trust using Takata assets under the bankruptcy plan.”

According to the firm, one resolution is with TK Holdings (Takata’s U.S. division) and the other is with Original Equipment Manufacturer, Honda North America.

Honda may be legally responsible, the firm said, because the OEMs installed the defective airbags in their vehicles. So far, there have been more than 200 reported injuries or deaths involving defective Takata airbags in Hondas, according to the firm.

According to a Motley Rice news release, Honda will pay 100 percent of compensatory damages regardless of fault placed on Takata, third parties, or the victims, and regardless of the car’s age or the expiration of a statute of limitations.

Dean
Dean

“Risks to the victim are effectively mitigated, reducing stress and allowing them to focus on their lives and injuries,” the release states. “For example, defenses that may be used in the tort system by an OEM, such as not acting on a recall letter or driving violations, are waived under this settlement. Additionally, the settlement values have punitive damages built in based on known, prior settlement values in other cases.”

Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @SCLWHamacher

 

SETTLEMENT REPORT – PERSONAL INJURY/WRONGFUL DEATH

Amount: $90-$137 million trust

Injuries alleged: Personal injuries and wrongful death

Case name: TK Holdings, Inc.

Court: U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware

Case No.: 17-11375-BLS

Judge: Brendan Shannon

Date of settlement: Feb. 16

Attorneys for plaintiff: Joseph Rice, Kevin Dean, and Ann Ritter of Motley Rice in Mount Pleasant, among others

Attorneys for defendant: Numerous attorneys nationwide

 

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