FeganScott filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners and lessees, claiming the automobile manufacturers sold hundreds of thousands 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 cars’ defect revolves around the anti-lock brake system (ABS) modules or the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU), sophisticated technological and mechanical safety features located under the hood. According to the lawsuit, the ABS modules and HECUs remain charged with an electrical current even when the car is 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 defects put the cars at risk of catching fire even after the vehicles remain parked for days at a time.
The lawsuit alleges that Hyundai and Kia were aware of the dangerous defect in their vehicles years before they warned the public. In fact, nearly a decade before Hyundai acknowledged the risk, owners reported to federal regulators that they woke up in the middle of the night to their garages on fire, which resulted in the total loss of their belongings.
Despite the eventual and delayed recalls of some of the models, the complaint alleges that recalls do not eliminate the risk of spontaneous engine compartment fires. Moreover, Kia and Hyundai’s proposed solutions fail to address the need for a comprehensive remedy that would remove the risk of ABS modules and HECUs erupting while someone is driving the vehicle — a fact that Hyundai has acknowledged.
The lawsuit seeks to represent all current and former owners and lessees of one of the class vehicles, including the 2007-2010 Hyundai Elantra; 2009-2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring; 2007-2008 Hyundai Entourage; 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe; 2006-2011 Hyundai Azera; 2006 Hyundai Sonata; 2006-2010 Kia Sedona; 2007-2009 Kia Sorento; and 2008-2009 Kia Sportage.
As of September 3, 2020, Hyundai and Kia recently recalled approximately 600,000 new vehicles including the 2013 – 2015 Kia Optima, 2014-2015 Kia Sorento, and 2013- 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe.
The amended complaint, filed November 13, 2020, adds additional plaintiffs and includes allegations related to vehicles containing the same ABS module defect, which were recalled subsequent to the filing of our initial complaint. Specifically, on August 27 and September 4, 2020, Defendants disclosed that the defect was found in over half a million additional class vehicles (2013-2015 Kia Optima; 2014-2015 Kia Sorento; 2019 Kia Stinger; 2013-2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport; and 2019-2021 Hyundai Tucson).
On December 30, 2020, Hyundai expanded its recall of Hyundai Tucsons to include “Certain Model Year 2016-2021 Hyundai Tucson vehicles not equipped with Smart Cruise Control (“SCC”) and produced from May 19, 2015 through November 16, 2020 by Hyundai Motor Company (“HMC”) in South Korea for sale in the U.S. market.” This expands the Sept. 4, 2020 recall of certain 2019-2021 Tucson vehicles. The total number of vehicles subject to this particular recall is now 652K.
Hyundai stated in an amended document filed with NHTSA: “There are no related fires involving model year 2016-2018 vehicles in the U.S.; however, ABS module fires have been confirmed in regional markets outside the U.S. for the affected 2016-2018 Tucson population.”
Additionally, on the same day, Kia expanded its August 27, 2020 recall of certain 2019 Stinger vehicles equipped with 3.3L T-GDI engines to include certain 2018-2021 Stinger vehicles. The recalled stinger vehicles are equipped with the same HECU component as the recalled Tucsons.
On March 4, 2021, Kia announced that it was recalling over 370,000 vehicles, comprised of 2017-2021 Sportage and Cadenza vehicles. Kia warned that the electrical circuit in the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) may short-circuit, which can cause a fire in the engine compartment. Kia warned drivers to “park outside and away from structures as a precaution” in order to avoid catastrophic fires.
On March 10, 2021, Hyundai recalled nearly 95,000 2015-2016 Genesis and 2017-2020 Genesis G80 vehicles. Like the prior recalls, Hyundai warranted that the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) module could malfunction and short circuit resulting in an engine compartment fire. Hyundai warned that this could occur when the vehicle is being driven or parked.
After the court granted in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss, on July 16, 2021, plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint, which seeks to represent current and former owners and lessees of the following models: Hyundai Entourage (model years 2007-2008); Kia Sedona (model years 2006-2010); Kia Sorento (model years 2007-2009, 2014-2015); and Hyundai Tucson (model years 2016-2021).
On January 25, 2022, the Court largely denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ second amended complaint. Specifically, the Court held that the plaintiffs may pursue claims on behalf of current and former owners and lessees of the following models: Hyundai Tucson (model years 2017, 2019); Kia Sorento (model years 2007, 2009, 2014-2015), and Kia Sedona (model year 2009). The case is now in active discovery.
As of February 8, 2022, Kia and Hyundai issued “Park Outside” orders for select Sportage, K900 and
Santa Fe vehicles due to risk of fire even when the vehicle is turned off. Read more about the notice here.
Read on for case updates and media coverage.