Constantine Cannon Client’s Ground-Breaking Auto Safety Whistleblower Award Makes Headlines
The precedent-setting $24.3 million whistleblower award to Constantine Cannon client Gwang Ho Kim, a former Hyundai safety engineer, received extensive coverage in the media, with stories highlighting the critical role Mr. Kim played in bringing information to federal regulators that resulted in the imposition of a record $210 million civil penalty on Hyundai and its affiliate Kia. We link to just a few of those articles below.
Reuters focused on the efforts of Mr. Kim, and his plans to use the compensation he received to help future whistleblowers and promote responsible corporate culture. “After my report,” the story quotes Mr. Kim, “I believe that automakers now know that anyone can blow the whistle and they cannot hide anything.”
The Wall Street Journal, which has previously reported on delays in the establishment of the NHTSA program, noted the settlement and quoted Constantine Cannon’s attorney Ari Yampolsky on the importance of the program’s first-ever award “not just for Mr. Kim, but for the automotive industry as a whole.”
Yampolsky was interviewed about the settlement on the CBC, describing the award as “a validation of the extraordinary risks that Mr. Kim took to protect the American driving public, the Canadian driving public and the driving public everywhere where Hyundai and Kia sell dangerous vehicles. It means that his efforts were recognized, he was protected and, in the end, his moral clarity and his courage were rewarded.”
Compliance Week noted that the award to Mr. Kim represented the maximum percentage possible of the cash portion of the Hyundai penalty, and quoted Mr. Kim’s statement that he was pleased to “have been justly compensated for the risks I took to protect owners of these defective cars and grateful that the U.S.’s legal system had a program in place to make this possible.”
Axios recapped the Hyundai settlement, Mr. Kim’s award, and the history of the NHTSA whistleblower program, noting that Mr. Kim’s award was NHTSA’s first under the program.
Yahoo News quoted NHTSA Deputy Administrator Steven Cliff, who said “Whistleblowers play a crucial role in bringing information to NHTSA about serious safety problems that are hidden from the agency,”
The Associated Press detailed the history of problems in Hyundai and Kia’s “Theta II” engines, which were prone to stalling and engine fires. After a limited initial recall, the automakers issued expanded recalls for 1.2 million more vehicles.
The award to Mr. Kim is important for the automotive industry as a whole. With it, NHTSA has sent a clear message to industry employees everywhere that it wants to hear information about unsafe vehicles in the United States, and that the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act pays financial rewards for exposing misconduct.
- Hyundai Whistleblower Represented by Constantine Cannon Gets $24.3 Million, First-Ever Award for Reporting Defects to Auto Safety Regulators
- Press Release: Constantine Cannon Announces First-Ever NHTSA Whistleblower Award In Hyundai-Kia Engine Defect Case
- Auto Safety – Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act
- Whistleblower Reward Laws
- Whistleblower FAQs
- I Think I Have a Whistleblower Case
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