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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Affirmes $5.6 Mil. Class Action Judgment Against Kia Motors America

December 6, 2011

Philadelphia personal injury and class action law firm Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, recently announced that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed a $5.6 million class action judgment against Kia Motors America for selling cars with defective brakes to Pennsylvania automobile consumers.

On Dec. 2, 2011, Chief Justice Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an 80-page decision upholding the 2005 class action verdict for more than 9,400 Pennsylvania consumers who had purchased or leased a model year 1997-2000 Kia Sephia. The Supreme Court affirmed the jury’s award of $600 for each of the class members. Counsel fees are to be paid by Kia rather than by class members. The Court agreed that the evidence presented at trial supported the class’ claim that the brake system of the Sephia was defective, resulting in premature wear of brake pads and rotors after just a few thousand miles, instead of meeting Kia’s own expectation that brake components should last for at least 20,000 miles.

The affirmance is a major victory for consumers in one of the few class actions to be actually tried through verdict in Pennsylvania. The class of Pennsylvania purchasers of 1997-2000 Kia Sephia cars was represented by Alan M. Feldman and Edward S. Goldis of Feldman Shepherd, Michael Donovan of Donovan Axler, LLC and James Francis of Francis & Mailman. The case was originally filed in 2001.

“Many contributed to this victory, but I particularly want to commend our client, Shamell Samuel-Basset, for having the courage to bring this case and see it through over ten long years,” said Feldman. “I also would like to acknowledge our legal team, which persevered against a corporate opponent that thought it could outlast us. They were wrong. Justice may have been delayed by Kia, but justice was not denied.”

It is anticipated that checks will be sent to class members following a final hearing before Judge Bernstein. Members of the class who have changed their address information since 2004 should contact Mr. Feldman or other class counsel as soon as possible. It is estimated that about 3,300 class members reside in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.