The automakers named in the class action suit over faulty airbags have asked a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida to halt the litigation for at least six months. (Photo: Shutterstock/Pierre Desrosiers)

Auto manufacturers who had the misfortune of incorporating faulty airbags made by Takata Corp. into their vehicles are facing individual lawsuits as well as a consolidated class action. In an interesting legal maneuver, the automakers have asked a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida to halt the litigation for at least six months. Their reason? The automakers are claiming that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has “primary jurisdiction” over claims brought by consumers.

The motion requesting the stay—filed on July 17—pertains only to the consolidated class action complaint filed by consumers and not to lawsuits filed on behalf of those who were injured or died. From a legal perspective, it represents an unusual strategy in massive litigation involving an automotive defect, but it does appear to be a practical argument. “A stay will avoid needless waste of resources on discovery that cannot be effectively conducted while there are so many questions about the root cause,” the automakers said in the motion.

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