Proposed Settlement of the Hyundai/Kia Fuel Economy Class Action Requires Improvements

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Attorneys at Consumer Watchdog and a group of law firms representing owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles whose fuel economy (miles per gallon) was misrepresented by Hyundai and Kia say the terms of a proposed settlement between the vehicle manufacturers and two other plaintiffs’ law firms should be improved, according to a lengthy analysis prepared by the Consumer Watchdog team.

The analysis, submitted to all parties and filed with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, highlights three major issues with the proposed settlement, which would resolve the fifty-four MPG cases pending against Hyundai and Kia nationwide that have been consolidated before the Honorable George H. Wu in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California:

(1) To receive any compensation, the consumer must file an eleven-page notice and a five-page, nine-step claim form that is complex, hard to follow and unnecessary.

(2) Hyundai and Kia would be allowed to keep all unclaimed and expired compensation. Requiring a claim form will end up allowing the two defendants to keep most of the money they have agreed to pay consumers.

(3) The proposed compensation to vehicle owners is not fully documented and does not fully cover the economic loss suffered by consumers.

“With the active assistance and encouragement of the Court, modifications can be made that will address the proposal’s flaws, hopefully rendering formal opposition unnecessary,” the analysis states.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s analysis of the proposed settlement here.

EPA Investigation Confirms Consumer Watchdog Allegations

Acting in response to complaints from consumers, Consumer Watchdog asked the White House in November, 2011, and the EPA in January, 2012, to investigate allegations that the Hyundai Elantra was falling far short of the “40 miles per gallon” promised by Hyundai in its national advertising campaign. When the government took no action, Consumer Watchdog lawyers sued Hyundai on behalf of a California consumer in July, 2012 in state court, and subsequently filed lawsuits on behalf of consumers nationwide in federal court. In November, 2012, the EPA announced that it had confirmed discrepancies in the MPG claimed by Hyundai and its sister-company Kia for several of the companies’ 2011-2013 vehicles. The EPA announcement sparked the filing of more than 50 other lawsuits, which were centralized in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, at the request of the Consumer Watchdog legal team, in November, 2012. 

In February, 2013, two of the 60 law firms representing Hyundai and Kia owners and lessees announced they had reached a settlement with the car manufacturers that would conclude the claims of an estimated 900,000 consumers who purchased or leased Hyundai and Kia vehicles with falsely advertised fuel economy. The proposed settlement was made public on December 23, 2013.

Consumer Watchdog’s lawyers are working with the nationally-recognized firms Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP; Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP; and Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP.

Lawyers representing other consumers who have not yet agreed to the settlement also filed their clients’ position with the Court in January, 2014. The complete filing may be found here.

The case is In re: Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation, C.D. Cal. Case No. 2:13-ml-02424-GW-FFM.

Read the Daily Journal article on reaction to the proposed settlement here.

For more information about the Hyundai/Kia MPG litigation, visit its case page.

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