Takata settles with injured drivers to exit bankruptcy

FILE - In this May 4, 2016, file photo, visitors walk by a Takata Corp. desk at an automaker's showroom in Tokyo. The Justice Department is planning to announce a criminal penalty against the Japanese air bag maker as part of its investigation into the company's defective air bag inflators. The department has scheduled a news conference Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 in Detroit to make the announcement. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Takata Corp’s U.S. unit has reached a settlement with representatives of those injured by lethally defective air bags, paving the way for the company to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy and move forward with a reorganization plan, according to court documents.

The agreement between the Japanese auto parts suppliers, injured drivers and creditors, was outlined in documents filed in a Delaware bankruptcy court. Two groups representing people suing over the air bags have dropped their opposition to the restructuring plan, according to the documents filed on Saturday. Under the settlement, lawsuits will be resolved through a trust fund.

Takata was forced into bankruptcy amid lawsuits, multimillion-dollar fines and crushing recall costs involving the air bags. Key to the restructuring plan is the planned sale of most of its assets to a Chinese-owned rival for $1.6 billion.

Related: Takata adds 3.3 million air bag inflators to massive recall

Takata’s air bag inflators can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 16 people have died and more than 180 have been injured due to the problem, which has touched off the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history. At least 42 million vehicles and as many as 69 million inflators have been recalled in the U.S. More than 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

Thirteen automakers have joined the agreement, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The manufacturers, which are both Takata’s largest customers and biggest creditors, are indemnified in their agreements with Takata from losses and liabilities related to the air bag inflators.

Takata will file an amended version of the reorganization plan in court, according to the documents.

A spokesman for Takata said the company had no comment on the settlement.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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