Settlement checks are being handed out Wednesday to St. John motorists driving vehicles equipped with potentially dangerous air bags. The $200 checks will be handed out Wednesday at the Legislative Annex in Cruz Bay.
The money was made available through a recent $1.5 million payout to the Virgin Islands after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in 2016. Attorney General Claude Walker held a press briefing June 5, where he said 2,500 residents are eligible to receive the payments.
The attorney general called it the largest cash payout resulting from a defective product lawsuit.
Notices of a check distribution began appearing in newspapers and online publications last week. The notices outline a four-step process motorists must follow in order to collect the money.
Those deemed eligible for payments drive some of the oldest vehicles on the road equipped with Takata airbags. The U.S. states of Hawaii and New Mexico also sued the corporation and received settlements when it was determined the devices would sometimes explode unexpectedly, causing injury and death.
One St. Croix a motorist was injured in 2010 by flying shrapnel when the Takata airbag in her 2002 Honda Civic deployed unexpectedly.
Check distribution is expected to take place Wednesday, June 13 in Cruz Bay between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Proof of ownership, tag numbers, a driver’s license and registration must be presented at the distribution site.
Walker said recipients were identified through a records check at the Motor Vehicles Bureau and with help from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
More information can be found on the DLCA website at www.dlca.vi.gov. Consumers can view the year, make and model of vehicles identified as being equipped with Takata air bags. And although local campaigns have largely been associated with certain makes, like Honda and Accura, other models of Toyota, Isuzu and Ford also appear.
And whether motorists receive a check or not they can still arrange for free airbag removals by visiting local car dealerships, the attorney general said.