Case update: On May 5, 2023, Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. granted final approval of a class action settlement offering relief to owners and lessees of class Hyundai and Kia vehicles containing a potentially deadly ABS module/HECU defect. The settlement, valued between $326 and $652 million, will address claims from two settlement classes comprised of approximately three million Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners and lessees nationwide. Class members have until July 7, 2023, to file claims for reimbursement for defect-related expenses. For more information on the settlement, and to submit a claim, Hyundai class members are encouraged to visit http://www.hyundaihecusettlement.com/, and Kia class members are encouraged to visit https://kiahecusettlement.com/.
In August 2020, FeganScott filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners and lessees, claiming the automobile manufacturers sold millions of vehicles with a potentially deadly defect that can cause spontaneous engine compartment fires, resulting in damage to cars and homes and threatening the lives of many.
The alleged defect concerns the anti-lock brake system (ABS) modules – also called hydraulic electronic control units (HECU) – which are located under the vehicles’ hoods and control a vital emergency safety feature.
According to the lawsuit, the ABS modules in the class vehicles remain charged with an electrical current, even when the cars are not running. This, coupled with a defect that allows moisture to enter the electrified components, creates the risk of fires erupting.
Hyundai and Kia acknowledge that the ABS module and HECUs defect puts the class vehicles at risk of catching fire, even after they’re parked for days at a time. However, the lawsuit alleges that both automakers were aware of the dangerous defect in the vehicles years before they warned the public.
The class vehicles include: Hyundai Tucson (model years (“MY”) 2014-2021), Hyundai Santa Fe (MY2007, 2017-2018), Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (MY2013-2015, 2017-2018), Hyundai Santa Fe XL (MY2019), Hyundai Azera (MY2006-2011), Genesis G80 (MY2017-2020), Genesis G70 (MY2019-2021), Hyundai Genesis (MY2015-2016), Hyundai Elantra (MY2007-2010), Hyundai Elantra Touring (MY2009-2011), Hyundai Sonata (MY2006), Hyundai Entourage (MY2007-2008), Kia Sportage (MY2008-2009, 2014-2021), Kia Sorento (MY2007-2009, 2014-2015), Kia Optima (MY 2013-2015), Kia Stinger (MY2018-2021), Kia Sedona (MY2006- 2010), Kia Cadenza (MY 2017-2019), and Kia K900 vehicles (MY2016-2018), which were the subject of NHTSA recalls for defective ABS modules.
Previous case updates:
On November 13, 2020, plaintiffs amended their complaint to include additional allegations related to vehicles containing the same ABS module defect, which were recalled prior to the filing of the initial complaint. On July 16, 2021, after the court granted and denied in part the Defendants’ motion to dismiss, plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. On January 25, 2022, the Court largely denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ second amended complaint, allowing the case to move forward.
On August 15, 2022, the parties announced that they had reached a settlement relating to the ABS module defect, and plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia will offer free repairs to remedy the ABS module defect in the class vehicles, which will eliminate the risk of spontaneous engine compartment fires caused by the defect.
Hyundai and Kia will also provide extended warranties covering all future costs class members incur arising from the defective ABS modules, reimburse class members for out-of-pocket expenses arising from the ABS module defect, and pay the maximum Black Book value and goodwill payments to class members whose vehicles are deemed a total loss due to a fire arising from the defect. There is no cap on the amount Hyundai and Kia will pay for expenses that qualify under the extended warranties, goodwill payments, and reimbursements for past repairs and repair-related expenses. Plaintiffs’ expert values the settlement between $326 million and $652 million, depending on relief claimed by affected owners and lessors.
On October 20, 2022, Judge Stanley Blumenfeld granted preliminary approval of the settlement, set a final approval hearing for April 21, 2023, and ordered the parties to issue notice of the settlement by February 2023.
After holding the final approval hearing, on May 5, 2023, Judge Blumenfeld granted final approval of the settlement, finding that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. Class members have until July 7, 2023, to file claims for reimbursement. Importantly, although the Court granted final approval, the settlement does not become effective until all applicable appeal deadlines have expired. Claim payments will not be issued and additional benefits included in the settlement will not be offered until the time for appeals expires.
Important deadlines, including when the settlement will take effect, as well as other information related to the settlement and class members’ rights are listed on the settlement websites: www.HyundaiHECUsettlement.com (for Hyundai Class Members) or https://KiaHECUsettlement.com/ (for Kia Class Members).