Pasadena Ninth Circuit Panel Upholds $200 Million Settlement Against Hyundai, Kia

Published : Friday, June 7, 2019 | 5:31 AM

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena upheld June 6 a lower court settlement between a class of consumers, Hyundai Motor America and its Kia Motors Corp., affiliate, obligating the manufacturers to payout $200 million over false statements of fuel efficiency.

The 8-3 en banc decision upheld U.S. District Court Judge George Wu’s 2015 approval of a final settlement and consumer class certification in a case alleging the companies overstated fuel efficiency estimates in advertisement and on car sale sticker for certain 2011, 2012, and 2013 modes, such as the Elantra and Sonata.

“After extensive litigation, the lead plaintiffs’ counsel and the automakers negotiated a settlement that the district court approved following eight months of confirmatory discovery,” the decision read. “Objectors challenged the certification order and fee awards on various grounds. Finding none of them persuasive, we affirm,” the decision read.

Litigation on the Hyundai and Kia fuel economy case began after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found flaws in the carmakers’ testing procedures, and Hyundai and Kia lowered fuel efficiency estimates for about 900,000 vehicles during the aforementioned model years.

A Law 360 report said the appeals court provided some clarity on what plaintiffs and class action defense lawyers have described as an unworkable standard for class actions following the majority panel’s January 2018 decision, which forced trial courts to scrutinize a settlement class to the same degree as a litigation class by requiring attorneys to conduct a state-by-state analysis of consumers’ claims.

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