Kia and Hyundai reach multi-million settlement with car owners due to lack of antitheft features

November 15, 2023

While you might not be familiar with the “Kia Boys” or “Hyundai Boys,” their notorious criminal activities have likely reached your attention. Since early 2021, viral videos on TikTok and YouTube have provided step-by-step instructions on stealing specific Kia and Hyundai models lacking push-button ignitions or immobilizer devices.

Originating in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the “Kia Challenge” quickly spread to various U.S. cities, including Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, New Orleans, Seattle and various cities in New York, including Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse, leading to a significant surge in auto thefts.

This surge prompted the commencement of three federal lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai—a consumer class action, a governmental public nuisance lawsuit, and an insurance companies’ class action seeking reimbursement for repair and replacement costs. This article delves into the consumer class-action lawsuit, aiming to compensate Kia and Hyundai owners affected by the spike in auto thefts.

What is the class action lawsuit about?

In August 2022, a nationwide class-action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of owners and lessors of certain affected Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Kia and Hyundai failed to equip certain model year 2008-2022 Hyundai and 2011-2022 Kia vehicles with an engine immobilizer, a common antitheft device which prevents most vehicles from being started unless a key fob is nearby. The lack of immobilizing technology made Kia and Hyundai vehicles susceptible to a security flaw that allows car thieves to steal these vehicles utilizing a common USB charging cord.

What is the status of the lawsuit?

On October 31, 2023, the Honorable James V. Selna from the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California granted preliminary approval for a revised settlement agreement with Kia and Hyundai.

The Angeion Group will be responsible for administering the settlement, and notices will be sent to class-action members by March 4, 2024, providing them the opportunity to file claims. Pending the court’s final approval of the revised settlement, compensation distribution to members will begin. The final approval hearing is scheduled for July 15, 2024.

What benefits have Kia and Hyundai proposed to offer vehicle owners under the terms of the revised settlement?

The revised settlement agreement offers an estimated $9 million affected Kia and Hyundai owners’ total relief of $145 million or more in compensatory relief to class members. This includes compensation for out-of-pocket losses related to theft or attempted theft, covering up to $6,125 for a total vehicle loss, up to $3,375 for vehicle damage and other costs, such as insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, lost income, childcare costs, transportation and towing, as well as the purchase of replacement key fobs.

Affected Kia and Hyundai vehicle owners and lessees can access no-cost software upgrades to address the absence of immobilizing technology. Those ineligible for software upgrades may receive compensation for purchasing and installing alternative antitheft technology like a glass breakage alarm or steering wheel lock.

Theophilus Alexander
PIA Northeast

Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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