Consumer Advocates Make Headway in Push to Improve Hyundai/Kia MPG Class
Action Settlement, says Consumer Watchdog
Absent Further Improvements, Settlement Still Not Ready for Preliminary
Approval, They Say
SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 24, 2014
SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer
Watchdog attorneys representing consumers dissatisfied with the proposed
nationwide settlement of a class action against Hyundai and Kia over
misrepresenting the fuel economy of their vehicles are continuing their
advocacy this morning in federal court in Los Angeles, seeking additional
improvements in the settlement.
The dispute dates back to complaints Consumer Watchdog received in 2011 from
consumers who were disappointed that their vehicles were not getting the
advertised gas mileage. After writing both the White House and the EPA without
response, Consumer Watchdog filed suit against Hyundai for misrepresenting the
fuel economy of its vehicles. However, on November 2, 2012, the EPA announced
that its investigation of the auto manufacturers determined that the
manufacturers' estimates were inflated. Numerous other lawsuits were filed
across the country. Shortly thereafter, the defendants – Hyundai and Kia – and
two law firms representing plaintiffs announced that they had "settled" the
case. Consumer Watchdog attorneys have been pressing for more information on
the settlement and better terms since that announcement; over the subsequent
17 months, the parties to the settlement have made some improvements in
On June 26, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles held a hearing on a request
by Hyundai, Kia and law firms representing plaintiffs that the court grant
initial approval of the settlement. The court asked the parties to the
settlement address a number of issues and concerns, including those presented
to the court in a brief by Consumer Watchdog attorneys filed on May 30.
However, the response by Hyundai, Kia and the plaintiffs supporting the
settlement did not fully address the issues raised by the Court, the Consumer
Watchdog lawyers said in a brief filed late last week.
Tomorrow's hearing will address the following issues raised by the Court and
Consumer Watchdog attorneys:
oThe format and clarity of the notice and other forms that will be directed
to consumers who are part of the class action. Though the settling firms
have made some improvements, the documents remain confusing and unlikely
to capture the attention of recipients, Consumer Watchdog lawyers said.
Additionally, the web-based claim system is not yet fully operational.
oWhether class members should be required to fill out and file a claim form
in order to get the money they are entitled to under the settlement.
Consumer Watchdog attorneys say the claim requirement is an unnecessary
oDefendants have failed to provide detailed estimates of the total value of
the case and, if a claim form is required, the likely amount of
compensation the class will receive under the settlement.
"The Court is carefully reviewing the fine print of the settlement, and
insisting on changes. This is good news for people who bought or leased
Hyundai or Kia cars based on incorrect representations of the gas mileage that
the cars would get," said Laura Antonini, one of the Consumer Watchdog
attorneys representing 13 consumers who have asked the Court to reject the
settlement unless further changes are made. "We believe our strenuous advocacy
on behalf of our clients – and the 900,000 consumers who will be part of the
class – has already improved the settlement, but more changes are necessary."
Court review of class action settlements is a two-step process. Courts engage
in a preliminary review prior to class members (consumers) receiving notice of
their rights under the settlement. At a future time, the court will engage in
a final review of the settlement for its overall fairness, considering
concerns and objections raised by class members.
Read Consumer Watchdog's initial analysis of the proposed settlement (January
Read Consumer Watchdog's brief formally opposing preliminary approval of the
proposed settlement (May 30,
Read Federal District Court Judge George Wu's Tentative Ruling requesting
further information and changes in the settlement (June 26, 2014):
Read Consumer Watchdog's Response to the Supplemental Brief filed by those in
favor of the settlement (July 18, 2014):
Read more about the lawsuit here:
The case is In re: Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation, C.D. Cal. Case No.
SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
Contact: Harvey Rosenfield, 310-392-0522 x303; Laura Antonini, 949-929-2612
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