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Mercer jury awards $1.6M to supplier in Hitachi lawsuit; Hitachi also gets $775K

HARRODSBURG — A Mercer County jury has decided that Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. owes a parts supplier about $1.6 million in payments it withheld because of a product recall.

The parts supplier, Grede Holdings LLC, must also pay Hitachi $775,000, the jury decided.

According to court documents, Grede sued Hitachi in August 2014, after Hitachi decided not to pay Grede a total of $1,739,197.50 due to the product recall.

Metal castings provided by Grede to Hitachi were apparently defective and ultimately resulted in a recall of brake assemblies in some Nissan vehicles, according to court documents.

Grede worked with Hitachi and Nissan to identify the problem and provided replacement parts, Grede lawyers stated in court documents. Hitachi continued to purchase products from Grede following the recall, according to court documents.

But in 2014, Hitachi withheld the approximately $1.7 million figure from its payments to Grede. According to court documents, Hitachi argued the amount covered costs associated with the recall, including labor costs, travel expenses, freight and shipping costs and a machine for testing.

Grede argued in the lawsuit that its agreement with Hitachi to provide parts includes language that bars Hitachi from seeking incidental and consequential damages. The costs Hitachi was withholding payment for fell into the categories the company could not charge Grede for, Grede argued.

The judgment entered Sept. 12 awards $1,599,624.96 to Grede — almost $140,000 less than the company initially sued for. It also awards $775,000 to Hitachi.

Hitachi must pay Grede’s attorneys’ costs and owes interest on the judgment in the amount of 8 percent per year from Jan. 30, 2014, through June 23, 2016, and in the amount of 12 percent per year from June 23 until the judgment is satisfied.

The jury’s verdict is appealable.