WASHINGTON Feb 7 German automaker BMW AG
has agreed to pay up to $477.7 million to settle a
class-action lawsuit covering about 318,000 U.S. luxury car
owners who may have suffered water damage harming electrical
components in vehicle trunks.
According to settlement documents filed in U.S. District
Court in New York last week, the settlement covers owners of
2004-2010 model year BMW 5 Series cars and will allow owners to
receive up to a $1,500 reimbursement for prior repairs.
A BMW spokeswoman did not immediately comment on Tuesday.
Owners of vehicles with fewer than 120,000 miles (193,121
km) and are less than 10 years old are eligible for a free
inspection and repairs if needed.
The settlement says sensitive electronic components located
in the spare tire well of the trunk in some vehicles were
damaged by either clogged sunroof drainage tubes or by some
other means of water entering. As part of repairs, dealers will
affix a warning label that informs owners not to spill liquids
in the trunk.
Owners contend that the automaker knew of the problem as
early as 2004 based on complaints, warranty claims and technical
service bulletins filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration. BMW has denied wrongdoing.
BMW has faced suits in New York and California over the
issue for four years and the documents do not indicate how many
owners may seek reimbursement.
BMW has also agreed to pay nearly $1.8 million to cover
legal fees and costs of the suing owners. The settlement must
still be approved by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)