Kia acknowledged it used Randy Walter's photo without his knowledge and permission. The company is willing to settle, but it disagrees that Mr. Walter is owed a high six-figure payment, which observers expect Mr. Walter to ask for in court.
Kia's attorney, Lindsay Johnson, said Mr. Walter "probably should have been paid," but added that Mr. Walter's career wasn't damaged. He claims he missed out on a promotion
"We think that Kia has acted appropriately ever since it found out about the problem," Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Walter was a tourist in San Francisco when a film crew from South Korean ad agency MBC Adcom happened to take a picture of him. wearing a golf shirt with the logo of his company, Genencor International.
MBC Adcom then altered the photo using computers to make it appear Mr. Walter was eyeing a Kia Sephia. The ad ran in various Korean publications, including Korean Airlines' magazine, in 1995-96. A Genencor executive happened to see the ad and inquired what someone in a company shirt was doing in a Kia ad.
Mr. Walter sued the agency, Kia Motors Corp. and its U.S. arm, Kia Motors America, in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Mr. Walter won a default judgment-for an amount still to be determined-against MBC Adcom, which didn't show up in court.
Tom Turner, Mr. Walter's attorney, said he'll seek from Kia damages and "whatever it is going to take to make a $5 billion company change its policy"