Case Update: On October 31, 2023, Judge James V. Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement reached by the parties in this case. The settlement is valued at more than $200 million. The terms of the proposed settlement include up to $145 million for out-of-pocket losses (including those related to thefts and attempted thefts), a free software upgrade and reimbursement for steering wheel lock purchases for certain Class Vehicles, and reimbursements up to $300 for the purchase of steering wheel locks and other antitheft systems for Class members whose Class Vehicles are not eligible for the software upgrade.
On or before March 4, 2024, class members will receive Court approved notices, informing class members of their rights under the settlement. Copies of the class notice will be made available on the settlement website, which will go live on or before March 4, 2024. Class members have until January 11, 2025, to file claims for compensation under the settlement.
On September 9, 2022, FeganScott filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of Kia and Hyundai vehicle owners claiming the automobile manufacturers sold millions of vehicles that do not contain a standard safety component to prevent car theft.
The cars’ design flaw revolves around engine immobilizers, an anti-theft device that can prevent vehicles from starting unless a verified code is received, inhibiting the vehicle from being hot-wired or started by any means other than an authorized key.
Incidents of theft involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been steadily on the rise. After a group of teenagers in Milwaukee, WI discovered that immobilizers were missing in certain Kia vehicles, the theft rate of said vehicles increased by almost 3,200% year-over-year in the first six months of 2021.
In recent months, Kia and Hyundai acknowledged the existence of the design defect yet have failed to issue a safety recall.
The lawsuit seeks to represent all current and former owners of 2011-2022 Kia vehicles as well as 2011-2022 Hyundai vehicles that do not contain an engine immobilizer and aims to hold Kia responsible for damages incurred by owners as a result of the motor company’s deceptive business practices.
On December 13, 2022, over a dozen related cases across various districts were transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and assigned to the Honorable James V. Selna. The case is now referred to as an MDL (Multi-District Litigation) and was given the caption: In re: Kia Hyundai Vehicle Theft Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, No. 8:22-ml-03052.
On February 9, 2023, Ms. Fegan was one of four attorneys appointed by Judge Selna to the Plaintiffs’ Consumer Class Action Leadership Committee, which represents all consumers in the MDL.
On April 10, 2023, the Plaintiffs’ Consumer Class Action Leadership Committee filed a robust 897-page consolidated complaint, which details the alleged Theft Prone Defect.
On May 18, 2023, a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit was reached, bringing 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.
On July 20, 2023, Fegan Scott and co-lead counsel moved for preliminary approval of the proposed settlement and asked the court to certify the class of consumers for settlement purposes.
On August 16, 2023, Judge Selna certified the consumer class of an estimated nine million people who purchased or leased a vehicle impacted by the immobilizer defect. Judge Selna agreed that the class definition meets all standards required to be certified in this case. Judge Selna also found that Fegan Scott “is experienced in consumer class actions, including having previously represented consumers in litigation against Hyundai and Kia,” and is, therefore, suitable to represent the certified class. The court, however, stated that it was not yet prepared to grant preliminary approval of the proposed settlement agreement and asked the parties to clarify certain aspects of the proposed settlement.
On September 27, 2023, Fegan Scott and co-lead counsel filed an amended settlement agreement and motion for preliminary approval. Among other benefits provided in the amended settlement agreement, class members who experienced a Total Loss as a result of 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 due to theft or attempted theft that did not result in a Total Loss will be reimbursed up to 33% of the Black Book value of their vehicle or $3,375 per claim, whichever is greater.
On October 31, 2023, Judge Selna granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement. In particular, Judge Selna found that the amended settlement agreement addressed his prior concerns and that it is fair and adequate. Judge Selna noted that Plaintiffs provided expert testimony that “the large majority of claimants, under the revised payment caps, to receive compensation in line with or exceeding the benchmark of 60% of their monetary losses, with some exceptions” and that “most insured class members are likely to receive near full compensation for their qualifying events, even based upon risk-adjusted payment amounts.” Judge Selna required that class members receive notice of the settlement by January 11, 2025.