A US judge decided that the South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. will need to pay $73 million in punitive damages to the families of two teenagers killed in a 2011 accident.
The families of the two Montana boys blamed the crash on a steering flaw, with the lawsuit – started back in 2011 – claiming that Tanner Olson crashed his 2005 Hyundai Tiburon after a defective steering knuckle broke. The accident claimed the lives of both Tanner and his cousin Trevor Olson.
Lake County District Judge Deborah Kim Christopher decided that Montana’s cap on punitive damages is unconstitutional and rejected Hyundai’s bid to further bring down the punitive tally from the original $240 million. The judge also allowed the actual damages of $8.1 million to be paid to the families, with total damages to be paid by Hyundai at $81 million.
“The defendants had over a decade of notice of problems or defects with their steering knuckles in their passenger vehicles — which problems or defects were contrary to their own material specifications — and apparently took no steps whatsoever to investigate,” said the judge.
According to Christopher, the South Korean maker had 127 warranty reports on steering knuckle defects. The original $248 million jury award is the sixth largest in the US this year and also the biggest ever against Hyundai.