Attorneys call settlement “welcome relief” for car owners who incurred losses from stolen vehicles
A proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit reached today brings benefits valued at more than $200 million to owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles rendered vulnerable to theft following the automakers’ failure to install basic security measures, according to lead class counsel at Hagens Berman, Baron & Budd, Fegan Scott and Humphrey, Farrington & McClain who the court-appointed to lead this case.
The lawsuit stems from the automakers’ failure to equip 2011-2022 models with an immobilizer, a common antitheft device in modern cars which prevents most vehicles from being started unless a code is transmitted from the vehicle’s smart key. The lack of immobilizer in affected vehicles spawned viral “Kia Challenge” TikTok videos demonstrating simple measures “Kia Boys” take to steal affected Hyundai and Kia vehicles using only a common USB charging cord or similar metal object to start the engine.
According to the lawsuit, in addition to the lack of an immobilizer, design flaws in the affected vehicles also allow thieves to steal them in less than 90 seconds. Lack of adequate security in the steering columns allows easy access to the ignition assembly, while the ignition cylinders do not have a locking mechanism and can be easily removed with minimal force.
“Benefits As Soon As Possible”
Attorneys say the settlement has been designed to address a multitude of situations faced by owners of affected vehicles, which total 9 million – 4.5 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias.
“The settlement will provide benefits as soon as possible to those who have suffered out-of-pocket losses due to car thefts in Hyundai and Kia cars without immobilizers,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman and chair of the lead committee representing affected vehicle owners in the lawsuit. “The agreement also offers upgrades to fix the lack of immobilizer at the heart of the issue, as well as payments to those who are not eligible for the upgrade.”
“Our goal in finalizing this settlement was to leave no one in the dark,” Berman added. “The owners of these cars have experienced enough upset, and we worked to achieve a settlement that covers many types of losses – from those who were lucky enough to have never had their theft-prone car stolen, to those whose stolen cars were totaled completely due to Hyundai and Kia’s negligence.”
What Hyundai and Kia Owners Can Expect
The settlement provides various benefits, outlined below:
Up to $145 Million for Out-of-Pocket Losses. This tier of payments includes compensation for a range of out-of-pocket damages, including total loss of vehicles up to $6,125, damage to vehicle and personal property up to $3,375, insurance-related expenses and other related expenses including car rental, taxi costs, ride share costs or public transit payments not otherwise covered by insurance.
The settlement will also reimburse affected owners for towing costs as well as other fees and taxes related to replacement vehicles, if the affected car was lost or stolen.
The settlement also includes payments to those whose vehicles suffered crashes or were stolen and never recovered, as well as coverage for speeding tickets, red light tickets or other penalties or fines incurred arising from a stolen vehicle.
Finally, class members may also seek to recover losses related to lost income or childcare expenses resulting from the implementation of the software upgrade.
Software Upgrades. At no cost, owners of affected vehicles are eligible for a software upgrade to effectively address the cars’ lack of an immobilizer. The software is designed to prevent the vehicles from starting without the key being present.
Hyundai vehicles eligible for the software upgrade include: 2018-2022 Accent, 2011-2022 Elantra, 2013-2020 Elantra GT, 2018-2022 Kona, 2013-2022 Santa Fe, 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport, 2019 Santa Fe XL, 2011-2019 Sonata, 2011-2022 Tucson, 2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster, 2020-2021 Venue, 2013-2014 Genesis Coupe and 2020-2021 Palisade.
Kia vehicles eligible for the software upgrade include: 2011-2022 Kia Sportage, 2011-2022 Kia Sorento, 2021-2022 Kia K5, 2011-2021 Kia Sedona, 2014-2021 Kia Forte, 2012-2021 Kia Rio, 2021-2022 Kia Seltos, 2011-2020 Kia Optima and 2020-2022 Kia Soul.
- Payments in Lieu of Software Upgrades. Owners of models that are not able to receive the software upgrade will be eligible for reimbursement of up to $300 for the installation of a glass breakage alarm or anti-theft system, purchase of a steering wheel lock, or other aftermarket modifications designed to deter or prevent theft.
Settlement websites will soon be made available to class members for more information.
“We believe this settlement offers comprehensive, welcome relief for the class that will serve as a lesson to automakers to not overlook such integral, basic safety features,” said Roland Tellis of Baron & Budd.
Fegan Scott’s Elizabeth A. Fegan said, “Hyundai and Kia failed to sell cars equipped with fundamental anti-theft features, and that was not a victimless act. We are pleased with the settlement reached and its immediate ability to hinder thieves, as well as compensate victims of thefts that have already occurred.”
“Plaintiffs’ litigation at its best addresses real issues affecting everyday people, and we believe this settlement achieves exactly that,” said Kenneth B. McClain of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain. “The benefits will upgrade eligible cars and bring monetary relief to those who suffered damages due to Hyundai and Kia’s actions.”
Class-action lawsuits filed nationwide have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation as In re: Kia and Hyundai Vehicle Theft Litigation, MDL No. 3052.
Hagens Berman is a global plaintiffs’ rights complex litigation law firm with a tenacious drive for achieving real results for those harmed by corporate negligence and fraud. Since its founding in 1993, the firm’s determination has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
About Baron Budd
Baron & Budd, P.C. is among the oldest, largest and most accomplished plaintiffs’ law firms in the country. The firm has garnered national acclaim for its complex litigation work, including automotive class action litigation against every major automobile manufacturer for concealing safety defects. The firm filed the first lawsuit involving the recall of tens of millions of Takata-branded airbags and achieved a settlement valued in excess of $1.5 billion. The firm was also involved in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” litigation and helped achieve a settlement valued in excess of $14 billion. For more information, visit www.baronbudd.com.
About Fegan Scott
FeganScott is a national class action law firm dedicated to helping victims of consumer fraud, sexual abuse, and discrimination. The firm is championed by acclaimed veteran class action attorneys who have successfully recovered $1 billion for victims nationwide. FeganScott is committed to pursuing successful outcomes with integrity and excellence while holding the responsible parties accountable. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.feganscott.com.
About Humphrey, Farrington & McClain
Humphrey Farrington & McClain is widely regarded as one of the best trial law firms in the country. HFM has pioneered litigation against asbestos suppliers, the tobacco industry and the food flavoring industry. The attorneys at HFM have recovered billions of dollars on behalf of plaintiffs across the United States and Canada who have been harmed by powerful corporations in a wide range of legal matters including consumer class actions, complex litigation, wrongful death and personal injury actions. For more information regarding the firm and its practice, visit: hfmlegal.com