January 18, 2014
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A family in Missoula, Montana sued Hyundai for injuries arising out of events that occurred on July 2, 2011. On that tragic day, a nineteen-year-old man and his cousin were driving on U.S. Highway 93 on their way to meet up with their family. The silver Hyundai that the cousins had been driving all of a sudden veered to the center of the road causing a head on collision with another vehicle.
The car accident resulted in three fatalities, namely the two cousins and a female passenger in the vehicle that they impacted. Later, it was discovered that the Hyundai had a defect in the steering knuckle, which is the auto part containing the spindle that attaches to the suspension gears.
After approximately ten hours of deliberations, the jury found Hyundai to be liable for the wrongful deaths arising out of this defect. The jury also found that Hyundai had acted with malice in not correcting the problem. Accordingly, Hyundai had punitive damages assessed against it as well as additional monetary penalties for the economic losses suffered. In determining a fair punitive damages award, the jury had been instructed to consider the value of the companies. The Hyundai Motor Company has a net worth of $46.7 billion and Hyundai Motor America has a net worth of $2.3 billion. The jury assigned $150 million in punitive damages to Hyundai Motor Company and an additional $90 million in punitive damages to Hyundai Motor America and $8 million for actual damages. Together the figures totaled a jury award of $248 million.