Mayor Scott Statement on Status of Hyundai-Kia Lawsuit
Monday Nov 20th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Judge Overseeing Case Denies Companies' Motion to Dismiss, Strengthening Claim Moving Forward
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, November 20, 2023) – Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott released the following statement on the status of the City of Baltimore’s ongoing lawsuit against Hyundai Motor Company and Kia America.
On November 17, 2023, the Honorable Judge James V. Selna of the Central District of California denied the Motions to Dismiss filed by the Hyundai Motor Company and Kia America against the lawsuit filed by numerous municipalities around the country, including Baltimore City. The suit, in which Baltimore was joined by Chicago, New York City, Seattle, and St. Louis, and other cities, alleges that these two companies created public nuisances by failing to include industry standard anti-theft technology with their vehicles, leading to a nationwide rash of thefts of Hyundai and Kia automobiles.
In ruling in favor of the local government's claims, Judge Selna noted that "cars line city streets, parking lots, and driveways across America. Whether it is through the theft of a car, the fleeing of suspects, or the collision with other vehicles, property, or persons, perhaps no other product impacts public safety or engages law enforcement and municipal governments to a greater extent than automobiles. It is foreseeable, then, that the lengths a manufacturer will go—or not go—to design their cars with protections against theft will determine the burden others will bear to respond to such theft."
The judge's decision, finding that the local government plaintiffs had sufficiently stated plausible legal claims, ensures that the cases against Hyundai and Kia will go forward.
Responding to the ruling, Mayor Brandon M. Scott reaffirmed the City's commitment to addressing the rising auto theft rates that are plaguing cities across the country.
"We are not only vigorously pursuing this litigation to hold these car companies liable for creating this crisis with their cost-cutting measures, but continuing with our multi-pronged strategy to address auto thefts at all levels," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “The data is clear, the rise in auto-thefts is largely driven by these companies and the impact on our residents is real. We need accountability at all levels, from those committing the crimes to those companies who so far refuse to accept their responsibility for the role their products play.”
“Our office, alongside our counterparts in cities across the country, will continue to pursue this case diligently. This ruling to deny the Motion to Dismiss is a very real signal about the strength of our case, and we will continue to utilize every tool we have to secure a win for the people of Baltimore,” said Ebony Thompson, Acting Baltimore City Solicitor.
Representing Baltimore in the litigation are Sara Gross, Baltimore City Law Department's Chief of Affirmative Litigation, and Richard S. Gordon, Esq. and Martin E. Wolf, Esq. of Gordon, Wolf & Carney.
For residents' additional awareness, in a separate lawsuit filed on behalf of owners of these vehicles, of which the City was not a part, the court preliminarily approved a class action settlement earlier this month. Owners of affected vehicles will receive notices in the mail by March 4, 2024, and should carefully review the documents in order to preserve their rights.