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Pennsylvania High Court To Hear Kia Class Action Appeal



The Legal Intelligencer (via Law. com) reports that Pennsylvania's high court has agreed to hear an extraordinary case whereby Kia was condemned to pay almost $10 milliion (including over $4 million in attorney's fees) because a customer's brakes wore "too quickly."

Shamell Samuel-Bassett's total cost for brake repairs during the warranty period on his Kia Sephia was $596.16. Brakes are not warranted (they are a "wear and tear" item), but Samuel-Bassett argued that his brakes wore too quickly. His attorney transformed his small-claims case into a class action by arguing that this amount should be awarded to each of the 9,402 people who had purchased 1995 to 2001 Sephias, for a total of about $5.7 million. Kia, not unreasonably, suggested that each case was different, and that not all drivers have similar braking habits.

Nonetheless, trial judge Mark I. Bernstein entered judgment for the class without requiring individual proof of the breach of the class members' express limited warranty contracts; he then added $4.13 million for attorneys' fees, including a $1 million "risk premium." Kia protests that the class certification denies its due process rights, and that the "risk premium" violates relevant Supreme Court precedent about fee-shifting statutes.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.