Expert assessment finds revised class-action lawsuit settlement will likely bring “near full compensation” to most insured Hyundai and Kia owners who experienced theft and/or damaged vehicles
Attorneys at Hagens Berman announced court-granted preliminary approval of a revised settlement agreement estimated to bring up to $200 million or more in relief to Hyundai and Kia owners whose vehicles were left vulnerable to theft due to the automakers’ failure to install immobilizers.
The Honorable James V. Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California preliminarily approved the settlement on Oct. 31, 2023, resolving claims in a class-action lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia that was filed on Aug. 18, 2022. The class action sought relief on behalf of owners and lessors of 2011-2022 models impacted by Hyundai and Kia’s failure to install 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 immobilizers in affected vehicles led to rampant theft and damage as well as viral social media trends and calls from municipal leaders seeking to address the rash of car thefts in their cities.
“Hagens Berman has worked tirelessly to refine the terms of this settlement agreement to ensure that Hyundai and Kia owners get maximum compensation, gathering experts’ analysis and conducting more than 100 tests on cars that received the new software upgrade,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman.
The preliminary approval order also certified the class of consumers and appointed Hagens Berman’s Steve Berman as co-class counsel.
The Details: What Affected Hyundai and Kia Owners Can Expect
Attorneys made several important changes to the settlement agreement with Hyundai and Kia to address feedback the court provided in August 2023, including:
- Reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses that aligns with vehicle value. Under the amended settlement agreement, class members who experienced vehicle theft will be eligible for reimbursement up to 60% of the Black Book value of their vehicle, including licensing fees, sales tax paid, registration fees and other expenses. Class members who experienced vehicle damage and/or stolen personal property due to an attempted theft will be reimbursed up to 33% of the Black Book value of their vehicle or $3,375 per claim, whichever is greater.
- Additional expert testimony on class member compensation. According to plaintiffs’ economic expert cited in the settlement agreement, “most insured class members are likely to receive near full compensation for their qualifying events, even based upon risk-adjusted payment amounts.”
- Additional expert testimony on the software upgrade. In a filing supporting preliminary approval, defendants told the court, “the Software Upgrade fixes the problem by activating an ignition kill system when the alarm is triggered and when the alarm is armed,” citing analysis from a mechanical engineer experienced in conducting automotive tests and vehicle investigations. Experts performed more than 100 tests on vehicles equipped with the software upgrade. Analysis of four reports of theft in vehicles equipped with the software upgrade found that they were the result of the doors being left unlocked, a feature of the software upgrade being turned off or the vehicle being started with a key or towed away, respectively.
“These key changes to the settlement agreement mean more people impacted by this defect will get the money they are justly owed,” said Berman. “Now that we have preliminary approval from the court, we may soon proceed to notifying class members and then distributing funds through the settlement administrator upon final court approval.”
According to Hagens Berman attorneys, the court’s order means that dissemination of notice to class members can now begin, and Hyundai and Kia owners can expect to receive notice no later than March 4, 2024. During the notice period, class members will be able to make settlement claims. Then, the court must hold a final approval hearing and grant final approval to the settlement before payments are issued. The court has scheduled a final approval hearing for July 15, 2024.
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.