A successful class-action lawsuit filed against Hyundai Motor Company in Orange County's federal court has resulted in a judge awarding incentive bonuses to the four main plaintiffs and more than $824,000 in fees and costs for their lawyers.
In her June 28 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker announced that plaintiffs Christopher Kearney, Nancy Kearney, Charles Moore and Shari Moore will each receive $2,500 in bonuses for their roles in holding Hyundai accountable for selling vehicles with deflective air bag systems.
The case, which was filed in November 2009, won a settlement from the car company that required it to notify consumers of the defect and offer more than $2.5 million in free labor for recalibration.
Models produced in 2006 through 2009 included an automated suppression system that turned off a car's front passenger seat air bag seat when it determined the occupant was a child.
However, the system could not distinguish between a child and a small-sized adult, potentially leaving the older person without air bag protection.
Hyundai agreed to take numerous steps to educate consumers about the problem as well as to pay the lawyer fees for the plaintiffs, which included rates ranging from $100 an hour to $800 an hour for 1,864.8 billable hours.
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Tucker, who praised the quality of the legal work against the auto giant, called the fees "reasonable" for the market and indicated she understands the plaintiffs' lawyers likely will get another $150,000 for "additional anticipated hours" of work and another $10,500 in costs.