A U.S. appeals court restored a $210 million nationwide class-action settlement for hundreds of thousands of owners of Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp vehicles whose fuel economy estimates were inflated, ONA reports citing Reuters.
By an 8-3 vote on Thursday, in a case closely watched by class-action lawyers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, said vehicle owners had enough in common to let them settle as a group.
It also rejected arguments by owners opposed to the settlement that the claims process was too burdensome, and that lawyers for the class had colluded with the automakers to extract a “sweetheart deal” that undervalued their claims.
The case began after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found flaws in Hyundai’s and Kia’s testing procedures, prompting the automakers to lower fuel efficiency estimates for about 900,000 vehicles from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years.
James Feinman, a lawyer for some objectors, said the court misapplied the law. Hyundai said it was grateful for the decision. Kia and its lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen’s decision upheld a settlement approved in June 2015 by U.S. District Judge George Wu in Los Angeles.
Wu “made careful findings, which the objectors here largely do not challenge, and which more than support the judgment,” Nguyen wrote.
The decision also reversed the January 2018 rejection of the settlement, and decertification of the class action, by a divided three-judge 9th Circuit panel.