Hagens Berman filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Hyundai Motor America, owned by Hyundai Motor Company of Korea (KSE: 005380.KS) and Kia Motors America, owned jointly by Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Company of Korea (KSE: 000270.KS) after regulators announced the companies overstated the fuel economy for many vehicles they sold in the United States.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Central California, seeks to represent all consumers who own or lease Hyundai and Kia vehicles whose EPA fuel economy ratings were less than the fuel economy rating produced by the applicable federal test in that model’s year.
Hyundai Motor Corporation admitted it overstated the fuel-economy estimates after independent tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed a discrepancy.
According to published reports, Hyundai will lower fuel-consumption estimates on most Hyundai and Kia models produced in 2012 and 2013. It will reportedly lower estimates by as much as five miles-per-gallon for its Kia Soul Eco., and by one or two miles-per-gallon for most other models.
The automaker apologized to consumers, according to published reports, and blamed the issue on what the South Korean company called "procedural errors" in its testing, which was done by a Korean lab.
“Many who purchased Kia and Hyundai automobiles did so because of the claims of fuel economy the company made to consumers,” said Rob Carey, the attorney representing the proposed class and managing partner of the Phoenix office of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.
“Regardless of how the errors occurred, the end result is the same – consumers overpaid for what they received, and a very slight difference on the low-end of fuel efficiency can make a big difference over the course of a year,” Carey added.
Hyundai also announced plans to reimburse purchasers through a complex plan requiring owners to visit a dealership to verify mileage. The company intends to reimburse owners for the difference in the company’s reported fuel economy rating and the EPA rating based on local fuel prices.
“While we think there are some laudable aspects to the company’s approach to addressing the issues, we feel that consumers have rights under California law not yet addressed by the automakers,” Carey added.
The suit was filed for a Seattle woman who purchased a 2012 Hyundai Accent; an Arizona man who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan; and an Arizona woman who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan, and a Illinois man who purchased a 2012 Kia Sorento, all relying on the fuel-economy numbers provided by the car manufacturer.
The suit contends that Hyundai violated California’s Unfair Competition Law; its false advertising law and its consumer legal remedy act. The suit also claims that Hyundai committed a breach of express warranty and committed fraud and negligent misrepresentation under California Common Law, among other violations.
Hagens Berman has a long, successful record of representing consumer interests in litigation against Hyundai.
The administrator has mailed payments to the addresses on file.
The objectors did not petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. All appeals have now been resolved, and the settlement is final. If you moved, and have not notified the settlement administrator of your correct address, please provide your updated mailing address to one of the following:
If you have not moved, you do not need to contact them. The administrator is expected to send your payment to the address on file in four to six weeks.
“The Ninth Circuit’s Hyundai decision resets the law on approval of class action settlements to what lawyers and trial judges had long understood it to be,” said Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman, who argued the appeal to the en banc court. “The Ninth Circuit has also upheld a strong settlement for consumers. The court noted, among the benefits, ‘tens of millions of dollars’ recovered for the class and approved the district judge’s ‘admirable’ handling of the settlement proceedings. As class counsel, we are gratified by these conclusions and look forward to distributing the settlement to class members.”
On June 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, issued its decision affirming the judgment of the trial court approving the settlement. This ruling was a significant victory for class members who registered for settlement benefits, and it brings the proceedings in the Ninth Circuit to a close. This decision means that the Ninth Circuit has made its final ruling approving the settlement.
Payments to class members must still await the completion of the appeal process. The objectors who brought the appeal in the Ninth Circuit now have the right to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court agrees to hear appeals only in very rare cases – around only 3 percent of the time. Under the Settlement Agreement, settlement benefits will be paid after any petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court is resolved. If the objectors do not seek review in the Supreme Court, the settlement will become final in early September and payments made shortly after. If the objectors do seek review in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, we expect that process to conclude in late 2019.
On July 27, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the petition for rehearing before the full Ninth Circuit panel (all 24 active judges on the court) to reconsider the decision. The hearing was held Sept. 27, 2018. A decision is expected within several months of the hearing.
Because the appeals are still pending, the settlement administrator is unable to mail out settlement payments. We apologize for the inconvenience and will continue to provide updates via this website.
On Jan. 23, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling on the objector appeals. Unfortunately, the decision does not resolve the case. The Ninth Circuit held that the settlement must be sent back to the trial court for a second look at the technical requirements for nationwide class settlements in federal court. One of the three judges on the panel dissented on the basis that the panel’s ruling goes far beyond anything the objectors argued on appeal. We agree with the dissenting judge that the ruling is wrong on all counts, and on March 8, 2018, we petitioned the full Ninth Circuit (all 24 active judges on the court) to reconsider the decision and correct it.
On Dec. 1, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set a hearing date for Feb. 10, 2017 in Pasadena, CA, which class counsel will attend. The Court generally advises that a decision is usually made within 3 months to a year after the hearing. Again, as it stands, the payment of settlement benefits will occur after all appeals are resolved.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a notice that our case is being considered for the Pasadena, CA February 2017 oral argument calendar. The exact date for oral argument has not been determined by the Court at this time. Again, payment of settlement benefits will occur after all appeals are resolved.
At the end of March 2016, all parties completed briefing on all appeals filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We are now waiting for the Court of Appeals to set a hearing date. They have generally advised that a hearing will be set within 9-12 months of completion of briefing. The settling parties filed a request to expedite the hearing date, but the court denied the request. Again, payment of settlement benefits will occur after all appeals are resolved.
A small group of objectors have filed appeals challenging the final approval of the settlement—a common occurrence in class actions. The settlement went through a lengthy two-year process of vetting and investigation under the close supervision of Judge Wu of the U.S. District Court. The Judge overruled all objections when he granted final approval of the settlement on June 11, 2015.
While it is impossible to predict the outcome of the appeals, we hope they will be resolved sooner rather than later. The payment of settlement benefits and attorney’s fees will not occur until the appeals are resolved.
Deadline to submit a claim for settlement benefits.
Final Fairness Hearing held in Judge Wu’s Court. Final Order granting approval signed.
Deadline for mailing requests to be excluded/opt-out from the settlement or to make objections to the settlement.
December 2014/January 2015: class notice was mailed and emailed to class members. The deadline to mail and email class notice was 1/05/2015.
U.S. District Judge George H. Wu said he would be certifying the class and granting preliminary approval to the settlement potentially worth over $255 million.