Filed in California, by Houston Vinci and Jaehan Ku, the complaint asserts that the defect severely inhibits drivers' ability to react to or avoid other cars, pedestrians and obstacles. The affected vehicles are model years 2013-2016 Accents and Elantras. According to the lawsuit, the alleged defect results from conflicting steering wheel input data that causes power steering to turn off.
The suit states that a similar defect had resulted in earlier models being recalled in April 2016. That recall involved 2011 model year Sonatas built between 2009 and 2010. The NHTSA said the cars were vulnerable to a loss of electronic power steering if a circuit board inside the drive assembly malfunctions or is damaged.
"A reasonable customer who purchases a vehicle that advertises power steering as a feature expects that feature to function properly," the complaint states. "A reasonable consumer further expects and assumes that defendant will not sell vehicles with known safety defects, and will disclose any such defect to their customers."
According to the lawsuit, Vinci, a resident of Oregon, bought a used 2013 Accent in June 2015. Since then, she has experienced repeated problems with steering in that vehicle. Despite taking it to Hyundai's dealers for repairs, so far, the problem has not been fixed, she alleges. In January 2016, the power steering defect caused her to crash, the lawsuit states.
Ku, also a resident of Oregon, bought a new 2014 Elantra in March of that year. According to the lawsuit, Ku spent two years as a truck driver in the South Korean military. In May 2016, the steering wheel in his Elantra locked up and his car veered sharply to the left. At the same time the brakes and he was unable to stop before crashing into the barrier on the side of the highway. A camera Ku had installed in the car captured the incident on video.
According to the lawsuit, numerous similar complaints have been made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As of June 7, there were more than 100 such complaints involving Elantras and 10 involving Hyundai Accents. These include a report of a driver who allegedly was unable to turn away from a wooden wall on the side of a road and drove through it.
The class action cites eight claims, including violations of California laws, the laws of 29 states, breach of implied warranty, fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment.
The drivers are represented by Barbara A. Rohr and Innessa Melamed of Faruqi & Faruqi LLP, Bonner Walsh of Walsh LLC, Adam Gonnelli of The Sultzer Law Group PC and Laura R. Reznick of Leeds Brown Law PC. The case is Houston Vinci et al. v. Hyundai Motor America et al., case number 8:17-cv-00997, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.