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Takata settles Florida airbag case, averting possible CEO deposition

Airbag maker Takata reached a settlement shortly before a hearing in Florida on Friday to determine if its CEO must testify in a case that already exposed memos and internal research leading up to the largest safety recall in history, attorneys said.

“I think the family is very pleased that there was a full measure of justice in these proceedings and looks forward to moving on with their lives,” said attorney Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein in Palm Beach Gardens.

His firm represented Kelly Sims, daughter of the late Patricia Mincey.

Mincey, a Jacksonville woman in her late 70s, died in April, two years after sustaining catastrophic injuries that left her a quadriplegic when the airbag in her Honda Civic inflated forcefully during a minor collision, according to Leopold.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

An attempt to seek comment from an attorney representing Takata was not successful.

In a hearing Friday in Duval County Circuit Court, attorneys for the family wanted a court to determine whether CEO Shigehisa Takada must answer questions in the case.

“It would be the first time he’s ever had to answer questions on this publicly,” Leopold said Thursday.

The deposition would “ensure the full and complete story is known to the public,” he said.

The Takata chief, the grandson of the company founder, said in June he plans to step down as the firm struggles with the largest automotive safety recall in history. Problems with the airbags have been linked to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries.

Automakers have recalled about 60 million vehicles in the United States. A May announcement roughly doubled the cars affected.

Florida is considered among the areas of highest risk for drivers because of the role high humidity may play in causing failures. About 8.9 million airbags have been repaired, according to a federal website.

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