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Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit

Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit
Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit
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2,019 views Sep 24, 2014
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In May of this year, a jury in Montana ruled against Hyundai , siding with the families of two teenage boys who died in a 2005 Hyundai Tiburon. The jury set a massive, $240 million penalty, which Hyundai subsequently appealed.
According to Auto News , the judge in the case has now cut that fine by about two-thirds, to $73 million. Will Hyundai appeal again?
READ: 2015 North American Car And Truck/SUV Of The Year: Short List Announced
BACKSTORY
The families of cousins Trevor and Tanner Olson claimed that the Tiburon Trevor drove had a defective steering knuckle. That defect, they alleged, led to the fatal collision that killed not only the Olsons, but also Stephanie Nicole Parker-Shepherd, a passenger in a vehicle that the Tiburon hit.
However, there are some complicating facts in the case:
Hyundai did, in fact, issue a recall for the Tiburon in 2005. While it’s still unclear whether the Olson’s vehicle was affected by that recall, we do know that the recall didn’t involve the steering knuckle.
That said, the steering knuckle on the Tiburon wasn’t trouble-free. Hyundai admits that it received 127 warranty reports related to problems with steering knuckles. So, even though the Tiburon’s steering may not have been “officially” defective, there’s evidence to suggest that it was flawed. Whether it caused the collision is up for debate, since defective or not, steering knuckles often break in high-speed collisions.
There’s some question as to whether the teenagers’ recklessness might’ve facilitated the accident. Though it’s often a terrible idea to blame the victim in court cases, Hyundai alleges that fireworks went off in the vehicle prior to the crash, and tests suggest that the company might be right. Also, it’s clear that the teens weren’t wearing seatbelts at the time, which doesn’t paint a picture of careful, law-abiding drivers.
Despite those doubts, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs. It set a fine of $240 million — the largest penalty ever issued against Hyundai and three times larger than the plaintiffs had sought. That figure is over and above the $8.1 million in real damages awarded to the Olsons’ families.
ALSO SEE: Uh-Oh: Police Radar Guns Could Soon Tell If You’re Texting, Too
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Hyundai appealed the ruling, and Judge Deborah Kim Christopher has scaled back the punitive damages to $73 million, which is more in line with what the Olsons had originally wanted. Paired with the existing $8.1 million in actual damages, that put Hyundai’s payout at just over $81 million.
Hyundai still wasn’t satisfied, though, pointing to the fact that Montana caps punitive damages at $10 million. In response, Judge Christopher said that the state’s monetary cap was unconstitutional. Furthermore, she alleged that Hyundai has exhibited a decade-long pattern of negligence with its vehicles, which justified the higher fine. (And in fairness, that’s the sort of things that punitive damages were meant to address.)
Hyundai plans to appeal once again, insisting that Montana’s cap on punitive damages is, in fact, quite legal. Hyundai’s Jim Trainor issued this statement:
“Hyundai believes the rulings are erroneous and constitute an extreme outlier in the law on punitive damages. Virtually every other state court that has considered the constitutionality of punitive damages caps has held that such laws do not violate the jury trial right because the jury’s fact-finding function is preserved. Nationally, both state and federal courts consistently have upheld the constitutionality of punitive damages caps. With these rulings and the other erroneous rulings made at trial, Hyundai looks forward to its appeal in this matter.”
We’ll keep you posted as the appeal progresses.
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Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit

Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit
Judge Cuts Hyundai’s Fine To $73 Million In Montana Wrongful Death Suit
By
2,019 views Sep 24, 2014
Follow Richard
Enlarge Photo
In May of this year, a jury in Montana ruled against Hyundai , siding with the families of two teenage boys who died in a 2005 Hyundai Tiburon. The jury set a massive, $240 million penalty, which Hyundai subsequently appealed.
According to Auto News , the judge in the case has now cut that fine by about two-thirds, to $73 million. Will Hyundai appeal again?
READ: 2015 North American Car And Truck/SUV Of The Year: Short List Announced
BACKSTORY
The families of cousins Trevor and Tanner Olson claimed that the Tiburon Trevor drove had a defective steering knuckle. That defect, they alleged, led to the fatal collision that killed not only the Olsons, but also Stephanie Nicole Parker-Shepherd, a passenger in a vehicle that the Tiburon hit.
However, there are some complicating facts in the case:
Hyundai did, in fact, issue a recall for the Tiburon in 2005. While it’s still unclear whether the Olson’s vehicle was affected by that recall, we do know that the recall didn’t involve the steering knuckle.
That said, the steering knuckle on the Tiburon wasn’t trouble-free. Hyundai admits that it received 127 warranty reports related to problems with steering knuckles. So, even though the Tiburon’s steering may not have been “officially” defective, there’s evidence to suggest that it was flawed. Whether it caused the collision is up for debate, since defective or not, steering knuckles often break in high-speed collisions.
There’s some question as to whether the teenagers’ recklessness might’ve facilitated the accident. Though it’s often a terrible idea to blame the victim in court cases, Hyundai alleges that fireworks went off in the vehicle prior to the crash, and tests suggest that the company might be right. Also, it’s clear that the teens weren’t wearing seatbelts at the time, which doesn’t paint a picture of careful, law-abiding drivers.
Despite those doubts, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs. It set a fine of $240 million — the largest penalty ever issued against Hyundai and three times larger than the plaintiffs had sought. That figure is over and above the $8.1 million in real damages awarded to the Olsons’ families.
ALSO SEE: Uh-Oh: Police Radar Guns Could Soon Tell If You’re Texting, Too
MORE RECENTLY
Hyundai appealed the ruling, and Judge Deborah Kim Christopher has scaled back the punitive damages to $73 million, which is more in line with what the Olsons had originally wanted. Paired with the existing $8.1 million in actual damages, that put Hyundai’s payout at just over $81 million.
Hyundai still wasn’t satisfied, though, pointing to the fact that Montana caps punitive damages at $10 million. In response, Judge Christopher said that the state’s monetary cap was unconstitutional. Furthermore, she alleged that Hyundai has exhibited a decade-long pattern of negligence with its vehicles, which justified the higher fine. (And in fairness, that’s the sort of things that punitive damages were meant to address.)
Hyundai plans to appeal once again, insisting that Montana’s cap on punitive damages is, in fact, quite legal. Hyundai’s Jim Trainor issued this statement:
“Hyundai believes the rulings are erroneous and constitute an extreme outlier in the law on punitive damages. Virtually every other state court that has considered the constitutionality of punitive damages caps has held that such laws do not violate the jury trial right because the jury’s fact-finding function is preserved. Nationally, both state and federal courts consistently have upheld the constitutionality of punitive damages caps. With these rulings and the other erroneous rulings made at trial, Hyundai looks forward to its appeal in this matter.”
We’ll keep you posted as the appeal progresses.
___________________________________________

Yes, Shoppers Believe That Gm Has Changed, But They’re Still Unsure About Quality

nullYes, Shoppers Believe That GM Has Changed, But They’re Still Unsure About Quality
Yes, Shoppers Believe That GM Has Changed, But They’re Still Unsure About Quality
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613 views Aug 1, 2014
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Last December, General Motors turned a corner . The U.S. government sold its last shares of GM stock, officially ending GM’s highly publicized bailout, and to mark the occasion, GM announced a new CEO, Mary Barra, the first woman to helm a major automaker.
Barra’s first few months in the corner office haven’t been easy, but a new study from KBB.com shows that she’s improved GM’s image, even if some shoppers still have doubts about the quality of GM cars.
FLASHBACK
Once upon a time, GM had a sterling reputation — one that inspired pride in its workers and confidence among consumers. As the decades passed and competition mounted, however, GM’s reputation dulled, and by the time we hit the Great Recession in 2008, the automaker had plenty of outspoken detractors.
Then came 2009: bankruptcy, reorganization, and rebirth. What was once General Motors Corporation became… General Motors Company , confounding journalists who had to keep the two names straight and putting countless monogrammers out of work. (Not to mention, quite a few GM employees and dealers.)
Those contentious days are far behind us, and the bitter taste that some experienced five years ago has been washed from many mouths — but not all.
SURVEY SAYS…
KBB.com polled visitors about GM between May 24 and July 1, 2014. Though the site doesn’t reveal how many folks responded to its survey, we know that 50 percent believe that today’s GM is a different company (metaphorically speaking) than it was in 2009. Another 24 percent feel that nothing has changed at GM, while 26 percent remain unsure.
Though that’s clearly not a perfect score, it shows that at least half of consumers see today’s GM in a more positive light, which is largely thanks to Barra. According to KBB.com’s Tony Lim, “By reinforcing the message of the ‘new’ GM and distancing itself from the ‘old,’ Barra can continue to effectively distinguish the company from its past”.
Of course, there’s plenty of room for improvement. While half of consumers may think GM has changed, fewer believe that its products are better now than before the bailout. In fact, just 39 percent believe that GM products have improved over the past five years, while 32 percent see no change at all, and 29 percent remain unsure.
Would those figures weigh more heavily in GM’s favor without the ” Switchgate ” recall? Probably. Lim explains that “GM can overcome these challenges and change perceptions by focusing efforts on new-vehicle launches and commitment to innovative in-vehicle technology”.
Thankfully (for GM, anyway), Barra and others are doing a fairly good job of convincing consumers that GM is acting aboveboard. Over 25 percent of those surveyed think that GM is being both proactive and transparent in conducting its many, many recalls . KBB.com’s Karl Brauer points out that “GM initiated the ignition switch recall versus having it ordered by the government, and the company’s proactive stance taken in the areas of vehicle safety oversight and victim compensation has enhanced the automaker’s image despite the high number of recalled models”.
How about you? What differences, if any, do you see between today’s GM and pre-bankruptcy GM (in terms of leadership, products, or anything else)? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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New Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices

Richard ReadnullNew Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices
New Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices
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328 views Jul 15, 2014
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A group of dealers in New Jersey aren’t doing anything to improve that score . 
The group — known as the “Route 22” group — includes eight dealerships owned by Carmelo Guiffre and Ignazio Guiffre. The list of dealerships includes Route 22 Toyota, Route 22 Honda, Route 22 Nissan, and Route 22 Kia, in Hillside, New Jersey; Hackettstown Honda; Hudson Honda in West New York; and Freehold Hyundai and Freehold Chrysler Jeep.
New Jersey’s consumer affairs division received complaints from 45 of Route 22’s customers. They alleged that dealers in the group failed to honor advertised prices, charged shoppers for extra items and warranties that they hadn’t requested, and refused to refund deposits on cars that were never bought. At least a few complaints also say that the dealerships advertised vehicles without VINs, which prevented shoppers from researching their accident and repair histories.
Yesterday, the group settled the case through arbitration, admitting no guilt and forking over some $1.8 million in compensation. 
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Route 22 has come under fire: in 1999, the same group coughed up $450,000 to settle similar claims. Perhaps some businesses are taking the state’s “liberty and prosperity” motto a tad too far.
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New Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices

Richard ReadnullNew Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices
New Jersey Dealers Pay $1.8 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints About Deceptive Practices
By
328 views Jul 15, 2014
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A group of dealers in New Jersey aren’t doing anything to improve that score . 
The group — known as the “Route 22” group — includes eight dealerships owned by Carmelo Guiffre and Ignazio Guiffre. The list of dealerships includes Route 22 Toyota, Route 22 Honda, Route 22 Nissan, and Route 22 Kia, in Hillside, New Jersey; Hackettstown Honda; Hudson Honda in West New York; and Freehold Hyundai and Freehold Chrysler Jeep.
New Jersey’s consumer affairs division received complaints from 45 of Route 22’s customers. They alleged that dealers in the group failed to honor advertised prices, charged shoppers for extra items and warranties that they hadn’t requested, and refused to refund deposits on cars that were never bought. At least a few complaints also say that the dealerships advertised vehicles without VINs, which prevented shoppers from researching their accident and repair histories.
Yesterday, the group settled the case through arbitration, admitting no guilt and forking over some $1.8 million in compensation. 
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Route 22 has come under fire: in 1999, the same group coughed up $450,000 to settle similar claims. Perhaps some businesses are taking the state’s “liberty and prosperity” motto a tad too far.
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Honda Adds 1,000,000 California Vehicles To Airbag Recall: Accord, Civic, Cr-v, Acura Mdx, More

Richard ReadnullHonda Adds 1,000,000 California Vehicles To Airbag Recall: Accord, Civic, CR-V, Acura MDX, More
Honda Adds 1,000,000 California Vehicles To Airbag Recall: Accord, Civic, CR-V, Acura MDX, More
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2,579 views Jul 9, 2014
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Today, Brazil’s World Cup team is no doubt feeling down in the dumps . But if you’re reading this, guys, take heart: it could be worse. You could work for Takata.
Takata’s faulty airbags have been responsible for over 11 million vehicle recalls — and the list is still growing. In fact, it’s now ballooned to at least 12 million, thanks to an expanded recall from Honda.
As you might recall, the reason for these massive, worldwide recalls is rooted in a problem with the propellant Takata used to make airbag systems in the earlier part of this century. That propellant can cause airbags to rupture and explode. In some cases, those explosions have sent shrapnel flying through the cabin. To date, there have been at least two such incidents reported in Japan and six in the U.S., with two deaths linked to the flaw.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the airbags, which were used by most major automakers. Though that probe is still ongoing, it’s believed that high humidity has been a determining factor in making the airbags explode.
A few weeks ago, Honda recalled 2.03 million Honda and Acura vehicles , 1.02 million of which were registered in the U.S. At the time, those recalls were limited to vehicles that had ever been sold or registered in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Now, California has been added to the list . And that boosts the recall roll book by about 1 million Honda and Acura vehicles.
To recap, the affected models are:
2003-2006 Acura MDX