Plaintiff Lawyers Win Big From Volkswagen $10 Billion Emissions Settlement

Plaintiffs’ lawyers said they will request no more than $332.5 million in fees and legal costs, the amount was far less than the  25% settlement amount “judicially established benchmark” for class action settlements

Plaintiff lawyers often win even when they lose. Plaintiffs’ lawyers will seek up to $332.5 million in fees and costs for their work in a $10 billion settlement over claims Volkswagen outfitted vehicles with software to cheat on emissions testing, according to a court filing.

The filing late on Wednesday in a federal court in California said Volkswagen and the plaintiffs’ lawyers had not yet agreed on how much the attorneys will be paid for their work. Volkswagen has agreed to pay reasonable costs and fees in connection with the settlement announced in June, which covers vehicles with 2.0-liter engines.

In the filing, plaintiffs’ lawyers said they will request no more than $324 million in fees and up to $8.5 million to cover other legal costs, for a total of $332.5 million. The lead lawyer, Elizabeth Cabraser, said the amount was far less than the “judicially established benchmark” for class action settlements, which is approximately 25% of the settlement amount.

Researchers at Mayer Brown looked up  every consumer class action in federal court in 2009 reported by two major commercial litigation publications. They found that in five of six cases where settlement distribution data was actually available, the percentage of class members who actually got money ranged from a high of 12% down to a low of 0.000006%.  (The sixth case had close to a 100% payout ratio, but it involved the Bernie Madoff scam.)

Can Volkswagen settle the fees in kinds, ie with a fleet of Porsche, Bentley & Bugatti?

More German States Might Sue Volkswagen Over the Emissions Scandal


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