On May 18, 2023, Humphrey, Farrington & McClain announced a proposed settlement valued at more than $200 million for consumers who owned 2011 through 2022 Kia and Hyundai vehicles that were sold without an engine immobilizer. An engine immobilizer is a common component in modern cars that is designed to prevent vehicle theft. Cars without immobilizers are at greater risk of being stolen. This risk became reality across the country when videos depicting the “Kia Challenge” went viral on TikTok, demonstrating simple measures “Kia Boys” take to steal affected Hyundai and Kia vehicles using only a common USB charging cord or similar metal object to start the engine.
The comprehensive settlement is subject to court approval and provides a wide range of benefits including:
- Payment of up to $145 million in out-of-pocket expenses suffered by owners of vehicles that were the victims of theft or attempted theft. Under this benefit, owners can receive up to $6,125 for total loss of a vehicle and up to $3,375 for reimbursement of repair costs and property loss for vehicles that were damaged or stolen and recovered by the owner. In addition, owners may apply for reimbursement of insurance deductibles, towing charges, rental car fees or time spent having vehicles upgraded with new software designed to address the cars’ lack of an engine immobilizer.
- Reimbursement of up to $300 per vehicle for anti-theft upgrades for cars that are unable to support the software upgrade. In certain model vehicles, a software upgrade cannot be performed. For owners of those cars, reimbursement of up to $300 will be provided for alarm systems, after-market immobilizer systems or other anti-theft modifications that will deter or prevent vehicle theft. There is no limit or cap on this benefit.
- Vehicles eligible for a software upgrade designed to prevent vehicle theft will be upgraded at no cost to the owner. As discussed above, vehicle owners taking advantage of the software upgrade are entitled to apply for reimbursement for time spent or lost work associated with having the upgrade installed at a Kia or Hyundai dealership.
HFM shareholder Kenneth B. McClain was appointed by the court along with attorneys from Hagens Berman, Baron & Budd, and Fegan Scott to serve as lead counsel for the consumer class-action plaintiffs in the MDL proceeding pending before the Honorable James V. Selna in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Regarding the proposed settlement, McClain stated that “[p]laintiffs’ litigation at its best addresses real issues affecting everyday people, and we believe this settlement achieves exactly that. The benefits will upgrade eligible cars and bring monetary relief to those who suffered damages due to Hyundai and Kia’s actions.” The proposed settlement is expected to be presented to the court for preliminary approval by July 2023.