Toyota settlement could yield $200 million for plaintiffs' lawyers
(Bloomberg) --Plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking up to a $200 million cut from Toyota Motor Corp.'s agreement to settle unintended acceleration claims for millions of its vehicles in the United States in 2009-2010.
Toyota said on Wednesday it will take a $1.1 billion charge to settle U.S. consumer claims that the value of their vehicles diminished because of recalls related to unintended acceleration.
Plaintiffs' lawyers are asking as much as $200 million in attorneys' fees, said Steve Berman, a lead plaintiffs' attorney. The total will be paid out to 25 firms and about 85 attorneys, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The settlement, pending approval from a judge in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., will cover costs such as cash payments to customers, Toyota said in a statement.
The deal is valued at $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion, a record in the U.S. in terms of financial scale and number of vehicles, according to Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman, which represented plaintiffs.
The one-time charge will be reflected in earnings for the quarter ending Dec. 31, Toyota said. The writedown is separate from the $2 billion in total costs related to the recalls that Toyota had projected in 2010, said Keisuke Kirimoto, a Tokyo-based spokesman. Toyota didn't admit to any defects in its vehicles or any wrongdoing in the settlement.
The cases were combined in a multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, who is also handling the federal personal injury and death suits. The resolution asks Selna to certify the lawsuit as a class action for settlement purposes. Lawyers for both sides are asking for immediate preliminary approval, Berman said in an interview on Wednesday.
The lawyers will be seeking final approval in June, after which Toyota owners will get paid, Berman said.Contact Automotive News