The 10 Biggest Kia Lawsuits in Company History


Kia, as a corporation, is based out of South Korea. It is the nation’s second-largest automobile manufacturer while Hyundai Motor Company remains the largest. However, both companies own minority shares in the other. Although they’re separate entities, they still work together as one. So, when it comes to lawsuits filed against Kia, is it strictly Kia that’s the target, or is Hyundai also part of the equation? As shareholders, both companies share the burden.

However, as a name, if it’s a lawsuit filed against Kia, then it’s Kia’s name that’s in the mud, not Hyundai’s. The same is true when the situation is visa versa. As far as the ten biggest lawsuits that have been filed against Kia go, a couple of them made headline news as major events that really put a dent in Kia’s reputation as a respectable company.

10. Michelle Cohn v. Kia Motors Finance, et al., U.S.D.C., S.D. Cal., Case No. 3:21-cv-02078-L-RBB (ongoing, estimated at $1 million USD)

Newswires issued a press release by Swigart Law Group about a complaint filed against Kia Motors Finance, Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and Trans Union, LLC by Michelle Cohn and her legal team, Swigart Law Group, APPC. In the complaint, the defendants mentioned committed multiple violations of the fair Credit Reporting Act. It was made aware of inaccurate credit reporting that resulted in a dispute over the payments Ms. Cohn was making, as well as the repossession of her vehicle. When she made the discovery of the misinformation, she first contacted Kia.

The company refused to do anything about it. The matter escalated when the credit bureaus refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing on their part. This case was filed on December 13, 2021, and is still in progress at the California Southern District Court. Although no exact dollar value has been determined as of yet, should Cohn succeed in her lawsuit against Kia Finance and its associates, the compensation could either reach or surpass the one million dollar mark. If Ms. Cohn has the receipts to prove her complaint is justified, the odds of winning this case will be in her favor.

9. Koons Kia, Maryland vs. the State of Maryland ($1.2 Million USD)

According to CarScoops, a Kia dealer in Maryland was ordered to answer for the state laws it broke by charging additional fees on to of the prices a vehicle they sold was advertised for. Although the dealership refused to admit guilt, it still agreed to pay a settlement amount of at least one million dollars as refund payments to its customers. It also agreed to pay the state of Maryland $200,000 for its investigative costs.

8. Hill et al. v. Kia Motors et al., 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals No. 20- 5690 ($95 Million USD)

After the driver of a 2008 Kia Optima was killed in an accident that also claimed the lives of seven-year-old twins in the minivan she collided with, it was discovered the fault was in the vehicle, not the driver. The accident occurred in Winchester, Tennessee, in 2015. At first, the decision was in favor of Kia before it was brought to a federal appeals court.

It was concluded by circuit Judge Eric Clay the plaintiffs of the victims involved provided enough circumstantial evidence to prove the 2008 Kia Optima had enough safety issues going against it that were the fault of Kia, not the driver. According to Reuters, the issue remains unresolved as the judges are still in conflict about the matter. With $95 million USD at stake, this deeply divided argument has so far only come to one agreement three people were killed in a tragic accident on December 31, 2015.

7. Automobile Protection Association vs. Hyundai Auto Canada, Kia Canada, Hyundai Motors America, and Kia Motors America (ongoing, estimated at $100+ million USD)

In Canada, a class action lawsuit was filed against Hyundai and Kia over engine-related defect issues found in over twenty models that were equipped with Nu 1.8-litre, Nu 2.0-litre, Gamma 1.6-litre, Lambda II 3-litre, Lambda II 3.3-litre or Lambda II turbocharged 3.3-litre gasoline direct injection engines, or Theta II 2.4-litre multipoint fuel injection engines. According to the lawsuit, the defective engines were built with inferior parts that caused them to wear out prematurely.

These defects ran the risk of engine fires, as well as other serious safety issues. There were over 800,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles involved. Despite the recalls, the lawsuit alleged both companies waited too long to deal with an issue they knew about. Furthermore, the repairs that were done before the recall took place were deemed inadequate.

As of March 9, 2021, the Superior Courts of Quebec and Ontario approved a Hyundai and Kia Canada class action settlement agreement. However, the agreement didn’t include all the vehicles that were at risk of engine failures and fires. As ordered by the courts, a customer rebate payback was put in place that’s still ongoing as the settlement was reached on January 4, 2021, with an open door for customers affected to file their own claims.

This isn’t the only Canadian class action lawsuit that’s been filed against Hyundai and Kia. There is also an ABS-related class action lawsuit that’s ongoing, just like this one. Both class action lawsuits are expected to see the Korean-based companies fork out millions in the next few years before it’s over. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been covering both news stories as they progress.

6. Hyundai Motor America, Inc. and Kia Motors America, Inc. vs. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ($210 million USD)

As laid out in full detail on the NHTSA website, Hyundai and Kia were fined approximately $210 million USD in penalties due to the Theta II engines used in their automobiles. There were over 1.6 million vehicles that were equipped with the faulty engine that was recalled, along with consent orders to establish monetary and non-monetary measures to improve upon the safety practices exercised by Hyundai and Kia.

Under the consent order, the Korean-based companies are subject to fork out $210 million USD in civil penalties and expenditures to deal with the safety performance issues. These issues also include engine fires that apparently erupted for no reason. Although this wasn’t technically a lawsuit, this did become a legal issue where Hyundai and Kia were forced to answer to an authority that expects vehicle manufacturing corporations to respect all the safety regulations as required.

5. Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Motor America, and Kia Motors Corporation vs. the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board ($300 Million USD)

In 2012, the Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Motor America, and Kia Motors Corporation were forced to admit their mileage claims filed with the United States Environmental Protection Agency were inflated. They were ordered to reduce their claims in America by three percent, as well as compensate all the previous vehicle buyers. Aside from paying a $100 million USD civil penalty to resolve the Clear Air Act violations they committed, there was also about $200 million USD in refunds that were issued to the customers who purchased 2011, 2012, and 2013 models of Hyundai and Kia automobiles.

On November 3, 2014, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement, as well as lodging a decree embodying the settlement in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Joining in on this legal battle against Kia was the California Air Resources Board.

4. Kia Motors Mexico Controversy ($1 Billion USD)

It started in 2014 when Kia Motors Mexico found itself in hot water with the State of Nuevo Leon. At the time, the state was run by then-governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz. The agreement gave unfair advantages to Kia that included bigger tax incentives than what’s usually allowed by Mexican law. A copy of the agreement was published on Facebook by Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, the current Nuevo Leon governor. This was done as part of a prosecution case that was filed against Medina as he declared the signed agreement with the previous government would be canceled.

A new agreement was later reached in June 2016. As for Medina de la Cruz and his crew, there was an investigation that revealed embezzlement, as well as an improper exercise of public functions, and damage to Nuevo Leon State assets. On January 26, 2017, Medina was taken into custody. Although there were no lawsuits involved against Kia Motors Mexico directly at the time, renegotiations were necessary to fix the wrongs that were committed by the previous government, as well as Kia. The matter was taken to court where there were litigation issues involved as Calderon was not about to commit the same crimes as Medina did. This renegotiation cost Kia $1 billion USD.

3. Hyundai and Kia Engine Litigation, No. 8:17‑cv‑00838‑JLS‑JDE and Flaherty v. Hyundai Motor Company, et al., No. 18‑cv‑02223 (C.D. Cal.) ($1.3 Billion USD)

According to Class Action, Hyundai and Kia were first ordered to pay $758 million USD to settle a seven-year-old legal battle regarding the engine fire issues revolving around a number of their vehicle models. However, the amount escalated to $1.3 billion USD after the federal judge granted final approval for a nationwide settlement to compensate all of the eligible drivers. This decision was made on May 10, 2021. On the Kia Engine Settlement website, there is a detailed list of all the Kia vehicles involved from the model years 2011 to 2019.

2. Hyundai & Kia Oil Consumption Lawsuit (ongoing, estimated at $5+ Billion USD)

According to Car Complaints, Hyundai and Kia have been hit on March 23, 2022, with a class action lawsuit revolving around the issue of oil-burning engines. This lawsuit, which has eight plaintiffs filing complaints against Hyundai and Kia is represented by Nye, Stirling, Hale & Miller LLP, Sauder Schelkopf LLC, and Walsh, PLLC. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. This is a fresh case that was filed in 2022 that’s still reaching out to customers through sites like My Car Voice. All the Kia and Hyundai vehicles in question go as far back as 2010 and as recent as the 2022 Kia K5.

Given the number of vehicles involved, as well as a twelve-year coverage of those vehicles involved, this could very easily become the most expensive lawsuit Kia Motors, as well as Hyundai, has ever been slapped with. Furthermore, these two Korean corporations refuse to accept any responsibility on the matter and are seeking to enforce individual arbitration against the customers. Kia and Hyundai want to restrict the rights of consumers from taking their issues against the corporations to court and have the matter settled by arbitration. This was attempted by the corporations before but agreed to drop the push back in 2013.  This will likely be a case that will drag on for years. Should the matter become resolved with monetary settlements, it’ll very likely surpass the $1.3 billion USD mark.

1. Korean Metal Workers Union vs. Kia Motors ($1.15 Trillion USD)

In the news shared by Wards Auto in 2017, the legal team behind Kia Motors is working on an appeal to overturn the wage dispute lawsuit that was filed against them. At the moment, they’ve been ordered to pay out $422.3 billion dollars worth of back wages to its employees from the period of August 2008 to October 2011. Adding to the total, Kia has been ordered to also compensate for bonuses, lunch allowances, as well as overtime payments.

The final calculation of this amount came to $1.15 trillion USD. When the workers filed their claim, they did so under the direction and sponsorship of the KMWU. In turn, Kia stated an argument the lawsuit violated the principle of good faith, claiming a ruling in favor of the workers would damage the company’s financial position. Kia’s argument failed to convince the court and was ordered to pay the workers according to what was owed.

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