Consumer Advocates Will Closely Scrutinize Hyundai/Kia Settlement
SANTA MONICA, CA--Dec. 26, 2013: Consumer Watchdog will closely scrutinize the formal settlement, filed on December 23, between Hyundai, Kia and two law firms that would resolve dozens of lawsuits brought on behalf of 900,000 consumers whose gas mileage did not meet the miles per gallon advertised by the South Korean car companies, the California-based non-profit organization said today.
Acting in response to consumer complaints, in November 2011 and January 2012, Consumer Watchdog demanded that the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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 November 2012, the EPA announced that it had confirmed discrepancies in the MPG claimed by Hyundai and Kia. The EPA announcement sparked the filing of more than 50 other lawsuits.
Within a few weeks of the EPA action, Hyundai and two plaintiff law firms began negotiations that culminated in a "settlement" first announced in federal court in Los Angeles on February 14. But it was not until yesterday that the formal papers were filed. In the interim, lawyers from Consumer Watchdog and other firms representing consumers not part of the settlement worked to obtain evidence of the circumstances behind Hyundai's and Kia's deception.
"We'll carefully review the papers filed yesterday to see whether the settlement is a good deal for consumers or a Christmas gift to Kia and Hyundai and a handful of lawyers," said Harvey Rosenfield, founder of Consumer Watchdog and one of its lawyers representing consumers in the case.
A hearing to discuss the settlement has been scheduled for January 23 in federal court in Los Angeles.